RE: Lifestyle changes better than drugs

2009-11-09 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


 

OK, so I'm still harping on lifestyle as preferable over drugs in treating
and preventing chronic illnesses -- nice to have my opinion backed up so
decisively!  (Not that meds aren't often necessary and life-saving; I just
don't like to hear them always put ahead of nutrition and exercise etc.)

I'd be curious to see if the lifestyle and weight loss group continued to
include follow ups of all the failures. You know of course, that weight
loss programs that do not involve surgery have about a 3% sucess rate after
2 yearsso my guess is that these folks are simply ignored in the study.
Oherwise, they will have come up with unprecedented techniques for weight
loss sucess...orders of magnitude better than any program previous to this.

That's why my wife's physician strongly reccomended this surgery for her.
After 5 years, she's 120 lbs lighter, and now has two new knees and can be
active.  She's within about 10 lbs of her absolue minimum weight, which is
better than average. 

Dan M.

VFP Just say no to food.


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Re: Knowledge of Complex Systems and Ecch-onomics

2009-09-11 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net
Some of the time, but only some of the time, I have the sender as the
poster, not brin-l.  Alberto was nice enough to send it back to me so I can
repost it.

Dan M. 

 -
 From: Alberto Monteiro albm...@centroin.com.br
 Date: Fri, 11 Sep 2009 10:46:01 -0200
 To: dsummersmi...@comcast.net, brin-l@mccmedia.com
 Subject: Re: Knowledge of Complex Systems and Ecconomics

 Dan M. wrote:
Subject: Welcome to Hyperinflation!
Date: 2008-08-29 12:30
 
  I was just checking the evolution of PPI (PPI and CPI measure
  inflation in the USA), and noticed that _this year_ the
  accumulated inflation is about 10% (!!!)
 
  Where did you get that?
 
 2008 data. And notice that I said PPI, not CPI.

 Two things on this.  First, PPI is always far more volital than CPI or WPI
 (Wholesale Price Index).  It is highly dependant on commodity prices.  When
 oil prices go from 140 to 35 to 70, the PPI is far more affected than
 either of these two.  Indeed, the CPI and WPI also have a core amount
 (excluding food and energy) that is a much better indicator of changes in
 the long range inflation.

 But, to look at what you quoted we have at

 http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?data_too
 l=latest_numbersseries_id=WPSSOP3000output_view=pct_1mth


 http://tinyurl.com/ndqm3x

 the PPI report itself.  If you add this year, we have a 1.2% increase in
 2009, and for the last calandar year a 6.5% decrease.  The BLS is the
 organization that measures US inflation and puts a lot of work into it.
 While others may argue about inflation being overstated by not including
 substitution of new goods to extend and reduce the cost of old goods
 properly, no one else measures inflation like the BLS.

 Yes, but I was talking about the period from 2008-01 to 2008-06.

 Why that period? (the PPI increased 6.5% during that period). It was before
 the meltdown and the government response.  Sinc ethen, we've had deflation.
 The net for the last 18 months is 0.  That's not inflation at all.

  http://www.bls.gov/cpi/home.htm
 
 This site is awful.
 
 There's so much information that I have no idea
 where the data came from. But it probably came from that site.

 I guess its a YMMV item.   I can usually find what I want in a couple of
 minutes.  As an aside, the US is unique among countries in the amount of
 available data.  It's much harder to get data from other countries.

 Dan M.



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RE: The thread about the thread Re: DeLong on health insurance reform

2009-09-10 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net



No apologies needed.  I just remember so well person after person taking on
JDG trying to talk about different stuff (abortion, death penalty,
politics).  While I think Dan talked the longest and the hardest, I came to
feel the guy just got off on fanning flames of dissention. Sort of like
what's going on now, IMO.

Well, not surprisingly, I differ.  With respect to JDG, while we cannot
really know the motivations of others, everything I see indicated that he
expressed strongly held convictions that differed from yours.  As Obama
said this morning, we should be able to civilly differ when strongly held
opinions differ...particularly on a mailing list where RL is only
occassionally involved.

For a while Brin-L was a place where I feel those exchanges could take
place.  I think the break point came with the big blow up..on Brin-L 1a. 
There were RL complications from that blow-up, and the list has not been
the same since.

Part of it is that, IMHO, IAAMOAC was so compromised, that it passionate
discussions became more personal. Another part is that a number of regular
participants left the list immediately.  At the present time I, a former
Obama delegate, is the closest thing to a long time conservative voice on
this list (e.g. I was the one arguing strongly against the idea that Bush
deliberately destroying the twin towers is as believeable as the official
version of 9-11) .  Like the blogosphererespect for differing opinions
have diminished here.  I would suggest that is part of the reason why
contrary opinions are usually found with folks like John.  This is not a
friendly place for a conservative, even one who could find welcome among
very prominent liberal voices.  

And Yeah, the women probably are hiding.

I understand your problem with signal to noise, but when John isn't
stirring something up, to first order, everyone is hiding.  Back in April,
there was not one post from a woman, and less than 50 from men. You and I
probably define signal and noise differently, but those 50 posts contained
very little new and interesting.  Nothing wrong with them, just that they
didn't say much.

So, the signal is clearly down from what it was before the break-up.  I'll
agree the signal/noise ratio is down, but IMHO, the lack of signal is the
biggest contributing cause.  If you notice how many different folks posted
in the last 6 weeks compared to the number of posters in April-May, you
will see that a lot more people feel they have something to say now.  Even
you. :-)

Dan M. 


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Re: Knowledge of Complex Systems and Ecconomics

2009-09-10 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Alberto Vieira Ferreira Monteiro albm...@centroin.com.br
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2009 21:13:40 +
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: Knowledge of Complex Systems and Ecconomics


On 2009-09-05, Dan M wrote:

 We know that, while we cannot see trends as absolute rules when dealing
 with complex systems, the most persimmons model consistent within the data
 has the best chance of being a reasonable approximation of what we will
 understand as we gain a better, more detailed understanding of the system.
 In addition, it has the best change of future predictions.  Note, I didn't
 say that it would always be right; there are many times that
extrapolations
 beyond data are wrong.  But, if one were to consider all possible theories
 available at the time,, one's best chance of being close is choosing that
 theory.

I had a feeling that I had predicted the crisis, but I didn't find my
message.

Here it is:

  Subject: Welcome to Hyperinflation!
  Date: 2008-08-29 12:30
   
  I was just checking the evolution of PPI (PPI and CPI measure
  inflation in the USA), and noticed that _this year_ the 
  accumulated inflation is about 10% (!!!)

Where did you get that?  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we've
had deflation of about 1% over the past 12 months and inflation of 1.7%
over the past 7 months.

http://www.bls.gov/cpi/home.htm

Dan M.

Dan M. 


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Re: DeLong on health insurance reform

2009-09-07 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

That's precisely what lots of people 
wonder.  Neither government nor business has a 
record that exactly encourages optimism.

I guess it depends on perspective.  Compare the lot of the median citizen
of the US with the median citizen of any country 500 years ago; 300 years
ago; 100 years ago.  Compare, even, the lot of the median person in the
world in the same manner.

Part of the problem with government is that, as the strong oppositition to
socialized medicine by folks who don't want their socialized medicine
reduced in any way shape or form, we have met the enemey and he is us. With
respect to healthcare, we know the US lags behind the rest of the world in
bang for the buck. So, we know improvements can be made.  But, we certainly
have made tremendous progress in the last 200 years.  If we were to make
similar progress in the next 200; things would be phenomenal.  But, we may
have reached the point where the low hanging fruit is taken.  It all
depends on whether we find good black swans for economics and find a
balance to the drive towards individualistic entittlement that we've seen
in the last 40 years.

Dan M. 


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Re: DeLong on health insurance reform

2009-09-07 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Rceeberger rceeber...@comcast.net
Date: Mon, 7 Sep 2009 17:29:35 -0500
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: DeLong on health insurance reform



On 9/7/2009 4:06:38 PM, John Williams (jwilliams4...@gmail.com) wrote:
 On Mon, Sep 7, 2009 at 1:31 PM, David Hobbyhob...@newpaltz.edu wrote:
 Your argument seemed to be:
 Money I pay in taxes
  is money I won't give to worthy charities. I didn't
  buy the ARGUMENT, for obvious reasons. That was not
  an attack on your views.
 
 It is not an argument, it is a statement of the truth.
 

So.you admit you hate America.

I can't see how that follows. One can even support higher taxes and make
that statement; because money spent on X can't be spent on Y. I think
that's what opportunity costs is suppose to measure.

In general, I've come to the conclusion that John is not a troll; he just
has a _very_ different opinion from the average person on Brin-L.  He has
surprised me with some of his suggestions; he virtually quotes Rand and
then states something that she'd hate in the next paragraph. I find that
interesting...trying to understand the viewpoint from which both statements
could flow.  So, I think he is arguing in good faitheven when I really
really differ with him.  By my definition, a good faith arguement is one
that is actually held by the person.

For example, when I discussed relativity and QM with folks who believed
they found fatal flaws in these theories, they definately seemed to be
arguing in good faith.  The fact that they didn't see the logical
contradictions in their arguements didn't mean that they were trolling. 
(BTW Johnthis does not mean I'm throwing you in with crackpots, just
giving an example of a good faith arguement I know is wrong). 

Anyways, when we aren't arguing with John; not much is said around here any
more.  None of us has his talent for generating list traffic. :-) 

Dan M. 


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a Nobel Ghostpost on the Ecconomy

2009-09-06 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

An interesting article by Krugman appeared in the NYT magazine:


http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/magazine/06Economic-t.html?_r=4partner=rs
semc=rsspagewanted=all


http://tinyurl.com/kmtffm

In it he discusses how the ecconomists missed last year's bust.  Not
surprising to anyone who's followed ecconomic theory for the last 20 years,
the market works best by itself ecconomists were the ones with the
greatest chutzpah. 

Dan M. 


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Re: DeLong on health insurance reform

2009-09-06 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: John Williams jwilliams4...@gmail.com
Date: Sun, 6 Sep 2009 12:46:44 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: DeLong on health insurance reform


On Sun, Sep 6, 2009 at 12:32 PM, Doug Pensingerbrig...@zo.com wrote:
 The link was broken for me, but from what you quoted above it seems
 we'd all need 2 or three insurance policies,

I'd love to have enough choice with health insurance to have multiple
policies tailored to my needs.

 a medical account and
 state and federal income tax deductions.

You mean a tax-exempt HSA account? Like an IRA? Sounds good to me.

 And since insurance
 companies are worried about making money for themselves, not the
 health of their customers, you can bet we'll probably need a lawyer to
 keep them honest.  Then we'll need an accountant to help keep track of
 it all.

Aren't almost all companies worried about making money for
themselves? Seems to work out all right to me.

 Why would we do all that crap when we can jealously look at other
 countries and say Damn, why don't we do something like that.  It
 costs less and it works better???

Do you mean, why would Americans choose freedom when they can instead
have their money taken from them and told what to do with their money
and have their health care choices dictated by their rulers?

Actually, that's not what the opposition to health care reform is coming
from.  Its from folks who are already on government health care, wanting no
cuts in it and wanting no one else on it.

The freedom you are talking about in a real free market is the freedom to
die for many people. People with insurance and second stage cancer do
better than people without insurance and first stage cancer. That's one
reason why measuremables place the US far down the list of industrialized
countries in health care provided, even though we top the list on health
care cost.

In your idealized world, people happily choose good choices.  Historically,
we've had market ecconomies with minimal governmental interference in the
past; and the choice for the majority was rock or hard place. 

Now, you've argued that's its the intangibles that matter most, which is
convenient, because they are so much harder to measure than tangibles. I
guess it's a difference in perspective; when arguing about emperical
quesitons; I tend to like measuremables.  

Dan M. 


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Re: DeLong on health insurance reform

2009-09-06 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

Even if everyone voted democratically to make some minority of people
slaves, that does not make slavery freedom.

Paying taxes != slavery.  You are more than free to leave.  You can't be
bought or sold.

Dan M. 


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Re: DeLong on health insurance reform

2009-09-06 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: John Williams jwilliams4...@gmail.com
Date: Sun, 6 Sep 2009 14:00:11 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: DeLong on health insurance reform


On Sun, Sep 6, 2009 at 1:35 PM,
dsummersmi...@comcast.netdsummersmi...@comcast.net wrote:
Actually, consumer driven health care supporters are where some of the
opposition to additional government control of the health care market
is coming from.

Some, but I can quote data concerning age groups and their
viewpointsand guess which age group really doesn't want changethe
age group on social security. 

 The freedom you are talking about in a real free market is the freedom to
 die for many people.

No, that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about freedom to
choose what to do with one's money.

And when you don't have the money because your options for getting money
are don't match the cost of insurance or healthcare.  It's the freedom to
die.  

 Now, you've argued that's its the intangibles that matter most,

Where have I written that?

The last time I brought up these data.  

Dan M. 


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Re: DeLong on health insurance reform

2009-09-06 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

Even if everyone voted democratically to make some minority of people
slaves, that does not make slavery freedom.

 Paying taxes != slavery.  You are more than free to leave.  You can't be
 bought or sold.

The principle under discussion was whether a democratic vote is
equivalent to freedom to choose.  I gave a counter example to
disprove the general principle.

Actually, as David's post indicates, you are probably in a minority in
considering that the principal under discussion.  I would really like to
understand your point of view, but when you quote, almost perfectly, well
known sentences associated with political viewwpoints and then are shocked
shocked to see that people think you hold that viewpoint, understanding
your viewpoint becomes nigh on impossible for me.  I say this as someone
who has sucessfullly understood why some folks are convinced that special
relativity is false, so I'm at least average at understanding folks who are
trying to communicate what they think.

So, I thought of one simple question that would be extremely helpful in my
starting to understand how you differ from folks who use the exact same
words as you do, but mean different things.  It is

Is being taxed different from or the same as slavery?

Dan M.  




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Re: DeLong on health insurance reform

2009-09-06 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Ronn! Blankenship ronn_blankens...@bellsouth.net
Date: Sun, 06 Sep 2009 17:27:28 -0500
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: DeLong on health insurance reform

br
Some people fear that government-run health care will feature all the
cleanliness and maintenance standards of Walter Reed combined with the
prompt service for which the DMV is famous and the compassion of the IRS,
and want to know what guarantees there will be that it will be like the
things government does well instead of the things that make the news as
scandals or annoy and frustrate almost everyone who has to deal with them


I understand that feeling.  But, that's not what is being proposed.  The
public option is to have government run health care as an alternative. 
And, fortunately, we have a giant data base of folks who have government
run health insurance: those on Medicare.  My _Republican_ congressman
stated that the overhead for private insurance paperwork is 20%, while for
the government it's 5%.

But, what about public satisfaction?  We have a comparative survey at

http://news.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news-2/Survey-3A-Medicare-gets-higher-
marks-from-enrollees-than-private-insurance-6883-1/

or

http://tinyurl.com/mwm3db

From the other items featured, it does not look to be a polemic website. 
We see those on the public plan are more satisfied than those on employer
sponsered plans.

And, that doesn't even address those who can't get employer sponsered
plans.  Let me ask a question, and I honestly will respect your answer. 
Are you so opposed to the government insurance that you'll refuse Medicare
and be willing to be untreated as an option?  I know folks with health
issues in their families who are consultants.  They tell me that bare bones
catastrophic insurance is about $40k/year.  Is this better than Medicare?

Right now, we seem to have taken the worst of socialism and capitalism to
get the most expensive health care while getting poor measured results.

Dan M. 




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Health Care:

2009-09-06 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net
Bruce wrote:


What exactly *do* you propose as an alternative to public-option health
care 
for people who aren't fortunate enough to be able to afford health
insurance that  
will actually cover treatments?

You didn't ask me; but I thought I'd actually propose something that makes
sense.  First, it makes sense for leverage to be used on folks making tons
of money on health care.  A surgeon can, in an 8 hour day, do 3 surguries
and the associated follow up care for about 8k.  I've seen what Blue
Cross/Blue Shield pays, and I base it on that.  We can pay hospitals,
physicians, etc. a lot less...other countries do while maintaining superior
measurables.

Second, reasonable tort reform makes sense.  I know from family experience
that, when there are two studies out within a few months, one indicating
physicians should stop a med; the other suggesting it be continued, the
physician can be sued and be forced to pay money.  

We are unique in the developed world in how often we sue.  I can understand
the oppositon to upper limits on damages: if a drunk physician were to kill
someone and folks knew he was drunk beforehand (coverups have existed), the
folks deserve to pay triple lost earnings and punative damages. The amount
of malpractice awards is a minor part of the cost.  It's the time spent
jumping through hoops that costs so much.  A physician should be protected
by providing a reasonable standard of care; and if studies are inconclusive
on a drug...neither using it or not using it should be grounds for a suit.  

We need to have a reasonable approach to end of life.  We spend more than
any developed country streatching the last week into the last month or two.
Coding a patient with multiple strokes and virtually no functionality and
no hope for recovery twice a day for months is crazy.  On this point I
agree with John; it makes no sense to have a money is no limit view towards
expensive procedures for those about to die even with the procedures.

Realizing this fact is probably poltically impossible.  

We need a way to get the rest of the developed world to help pay for
innovations.  How, I'm not sure.  If we cut costs; RD will dry up; drug
companies spend on it like ATT use to when it was a monopoly.  If they
follow more typical companies; we'll have few new drugs.  We need to trade
off governments helping to study phase III results, with the immediate
right to pull the drug, for drug company's agreements to only sell the
meds. for the intended purpose.

We need to offer affordable insurance for everyone. Brad DeLong's
arguement, IIRC, is to have health savings accounts required for X% of
income, and after that government insurance can take over.  This would have
to include Medicare; which can't function as it's going for another 10
years.

Well, that's a starting point, although it's not fleshed out. 

Dan M. 


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Re: DeLong on health insurance reform

2009-09-06 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

What exactly do you propose for everyone in the world who cannot
afford basic health care such as childbirth assistance and infant care
and vaccination?

Well, Iraq showed how hard it is to help folks by forcing out bad
governments.  My foster daughter Neli and I have talked on how best
governments and people can aid folks in other countries.  Most of it
involves the countries that spend the money taking the responsibility to
supervise how the money is spent, cutting down barriers to trade, etc. 
It's a real hard problem.

Personally, I've been doing what I can to help her sister Nymbe (my other
African foster daughter), to realize her dream of replacing Zambia's only
cardiologist, who's getting up in years.  It's only a bit, I know, but
treating two young African women as family is most of what I'm doing.  

Dan M.



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Re: DeLong on health insurance reform

2009-09-06 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: John Williams jwilliams4...@gmail.com
Date: Sun, 6 Sep 2009 17:28:02 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: DeLong on health insurance reform


On Sun, Sep 6, 2009 at 5:00 PM, Bruce Bostwicklihan161...@sbcglobal.net
wrote:

 Or, for an even darker scenario, how about the people who can't quit or,
God
 forbid, be fired from their job because if they do they'll lose the only
 insurance that will cover them

Which is almost entirely the result of the poor government policy of
providing a large tax incentive to get health insurance through
employers rather than choosing it oneself.

Well, there are problems with employer sponsered health careespecially
since it is spotty.  But, let's assume we tax all health care benefits as
wages or allow all private health care spending to be tax free.  For me,
and my small business, it's esentially the latter right now.

The problem is the fact that insurance is as affordable as it is for
everyone who has it (counting the employer's payment as part of the wages),
not just because it it tax deductable, but because there is one risk pool
per company.  My former company self-insured...they were large enough.  I
am now paying insurance through Teri's status as unemployed
minister...which is affordable due to how they pool.  But, if I were to pay
as myself, then any health issues would put me in the 40k/year bracket.  I
could probably afford it, but most folks can't.  So, after one big illness,
you're dropped, and that's it.

If you allow people with low risk to choose a special pool, then those with
median income and one big illness in their family could not afford
catastrophic insurance.  That's why we offer it through employers, and why
eery other developed country does it through the government.

So, if you are advocating a private insurance option with one risk pool,
and public help for the poor, then a private/public option is possible.  If
you are advocating the chance for companies to exclude people from a
coverage group, then folks will stay uninsured.

Dan M. 


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Re: DeLong on health insurance reform

2009-09-06 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net
John said:

That is incorrect. In 2007, the top 1% paid 40% of the federal income
taxes, the top 5% paid 61%, and the top 10% paid 71% of taxes. If the
middle class is 25%-75%, then the upper class, top 25%, paid a
whopping 87% of federal income taxes.

http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/250.html

I saw that, but since it was a polemic site, I went to the source they
quoted.  They contradict that source, by a wide margin.  At 

http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/indtaxstats/article/0,,id=96981,00.html

we have the IRS figures.  The top 1% of all returns paid 20% of the total
income tax on 13% of the total reported income. But, of course, they paid
only a small fraction of other federal taxes (biggest one is FICA where
they are capped at about 16,000, capital gains don't count and are taxed at
a special low rate (which mattered in '07), offshore income doesn't count,
etc.  And, the total number of returns includes all the returns by kids who
make $600/year and get $20.00 backthe income on about a third of the
returns is so small taxes aren't owed. If you look at the top 1% of folks
who did pay income tax, the fractions become smaller.

But, what is critical is the site you quoted contradicted their stated
source.  This sorta stuff happens all the time; that is why I try to get to
the real source.  I'm not calling _you_ a liar, BTW.  There are two reasons
for this.  I don't think you'd lie about thisso I guess I do make
personal judgements after all, huh? :-)  Second, I wouldn't call someone
out as a liar unless I had proof.  But, I will say that you are someone who
believed liars.

Now, if my arithmatic is wrong, then I gave the source for you to check me.
But, there was something fishy about that number.


Dan M. 


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Re: Knowledge of Complex Systems and Spellcheckers

2009-09-05 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net
OK, my spell checker got me good. 
We know that, while we cannot see trends as absolute rules when dealing
with
complex systems, the most persimmons model consistent within the data has
  parsimonious

the best chance of being a reasonable approximation of what we will
understand as we gain a better, more detailed understanding of the system.





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Re: First, do no harm

2009-09-03 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


 There is one other point that clearly falsifies the first do no  
 harm taken as an absolute rule for medicine.  Take, for example, the 
 fact that there are always unknown factors and low probability events 
 in medicine. For example, even with the most common surgeries, there 
 is a chance the patient will die in surgery.  Thus, if we first do no 
 harm, we never do  surgery.

I think First, do no harm is intended to be like something like the
law of the Iroquois Confederacy: In our every deliberation, we must
consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations. It
acknowledges that there will be times when it is unclear whether the
decision to act now or to delay in performing a procedure on a patient
is going to do harm.

I think both yours and Nick's post are two takes on a liberal
interpretation of that provisions; which does make sense in medical ethics.
When I wrote the post, I was arguing against a fundamentalist use of that
text, if you will.  I know when Teri did her chaplan internship at M.D.
Anderson, there were a lot of questions concerning medical ethics and there
would be medical ethesists involved in working with the rest of the staff
and the families on these decisions. 

So, I was arguing against a literalistic interpretation of the phrase
itself, not the tough decisions you and Nick talked about.  But, I would
also argue that the first do no harm idea has morphed in society into a
call for inaction until one proves no harm from something new in a number
of areas.  As Richard mentioned on the Culture list, there are inherently
safer, cheaper forms of nuclear power that are rendered ecconomically
unfeasible by the cost of satisfying safely test requirements of new
designs, even when it is clear that newer designs are safer than what we
are  doing now.  Or, the inability of NASA to adopt in a timely fashion
more reliable technology because of the money and years it takes to pass
official NASA reliablilty tests. 

Dan M. 




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Re: Ben Bernanke, fearless leader

2009-08-30 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: John Williams jwilliams4...@gmail.com
Date: Sun, 30 Aug 2009 12:14:11 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: Ben Bernanke, fearless leader



Taking a complicated situation and equating it to a simple one, and
then assuming that what holds for the simple situation holds for the
complex one, is likely to lead to incorrect information, flawed
decisions, and overconfidence in one's ability to predict the
evolution of the complicated situation.

You are very very quite about yourself, but your posts indicate someone who
has never had to properly simplify a complex situation in order to succeed.
I don't think I've corresponded with anyone who writes as though they
believe that Murphy's laws never apply to complex systems, and that humans
can do nothing but make things worse.  Your posts make the antagoist of
Earth a look protechnical. :-)

Dan M. 


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Re: Ben Bernanke, fearless leader

2009-08-30 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net
I origionally just hit reply to while multitaking and the returned it just
to John.  I'm sorry that it didn't go to the list, but I'm using my
portable which does not have my main sorter.  BTW, the below is not
intended as a flame, but an accurate statement of what the posts indicate
to me.  I have never ever heard anyone who I know had sucessfully adressed
very complex issues say or write what John writes about complex issues. It
is possible that I have read such a disbelief in Murphy's laws in the last
15 or so years on line, but I don't recall.


You are very very quite about yourself, but your posts indicate someone who
has never had to properly simplify a complex situation in order to succeed.
I don't think I've corresponded with anyone who writes as though they
believe that Murphy's laws never apply to complex systems, and that humans
can do nothing but make things worse.  Your posts make the antagoist of
Earth a look protechnical. :-)

It's funny that some of his posts have brin-l as the main return and some
don't.  Finally, I'm sorry if folks, like John, are offended that I spare
time writing to this list in between real work.

Dan M.  


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What are Bill Maher's beliefs?

2009-08-29 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

I've got a question on Bill Maher and germ theory.  In various non-Rush
type forums (e.g. the atheist alliance) there were numerous references to
his favoring of alternative medicines.  The quotes I've gotten (including
the Letterman quote that his illness is due to being poisoned) are
consistent with his viewing that standard biology is wrong on germs, AIDs,
vaccines, etc.  

But, I haven't found a smoking gun.  Does anyone have anything conclusive
one way or the other on this?

Dan M. 


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Re: More Pluto Goofyness . . .

2009-08-26 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Charlie Bell char...@culturelist.org
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 22:09:46 +1000
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: More Pluto Goofyness . . . 



On 26/08/2009, at 9:03 AM, Ronn! Blankenship wrote:

 What's a planet? Debate over Pluto rages on - CNN.com

No it doesn't.

*sigh*

Either planets sweep their orbits of debris in which case we have 14+  
or they don't and we have 8.

But it's not a debate about Pluto. It's a debate about whether we have  
lots of planets or we have some planets and some planetoids.

It's actually not a scientific debate, but a debate about semantics. 
Planetary science will not change with any change in definition, or what
objects that orbit the sun we put in what boxes.  To restate it, I don't
know of any predictive or descriptive difference beteween the 8 or the 14+
planet cases.  Both cases describe the same solar system; they just
attribute different words to different sets of circumstances.

Dan M. 


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Returning to Heath Care

2009-08-19 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

Since folks have expressed the desire to resume debating health care, I
decide to put out some of the facts concerning health care and public
opinion.

1) People want costs contained.

2) Most people, particularly the elderly, are fairly happy with what they
have now, but fear the future.

3) The majority of the elderly, who are on government health care, oppose
government interference in health care.

4) Any minor hint at adressing the massive amount of money spent
transferring the last week of life into the last month of life will raise a
firestorm.  The safe side for any politician is to call these death panels
and be against them.

5) Folks don't want government interfering with their private employer
health care.


Therefore, I conclude that folks want health care costs contained without
doing anything that might possibly affect them in order to contain costs.

I am now leaning towards the opinion that we will face this problem only
after Medicare requires a 500 billion/year payment from the government
after its funds are exhausted.  Californias refusal to face its obvious
unsustainable position during the last decade until the roof  caved in
provides good precident for this.


Dan M. 


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Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market

2009-08-18 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Jo Anne evens...@hevanet.com
Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2009 00:14:29 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market


Doug wrote:
 Has he been arrogant at times?  Maybe, but that sort of thing is
difficult
 to judge via email.  One can often sound arrogant or diffident or whiny
and
 not really mean to.   But if arrogance was the criteria by which we
judged
 people for their on list fitness, how long would JDG have lasted?

ROFLMAO!!  Exactly. And how many times did how many of us try to talk to
him
about the *way* he said things more that *what* he said.

Well, nice to have you back in the conversation, but I differ with you on
that.  I think most folks with long memories know that JDG and I have gone
at it many times back when he was on the list. He certainly got under my
skin, but I did not count him as arrogantjust a passionate debator that
really believed in his ideas.   He was the most conservative long term
member of the list, and I think it's no coincidence that I, an Obama
delegate last year, is the closest thing we have to an arguemetative long
term conservative here.  I know there are long term folks more conservative
than me here; they just don't get in long debates/

Indeed, I think we lost a lot of IAMOAC in the big dust upwhich ended
up in a significant drop in tolerance with those who differed from the
normative view of the list. 


I disagree, Doug.  Talking about how we have worked out talking to each
other, especially after 'the big blow' and a few of the smaller ones is an
important steam release valve, I think, and one of the ways this list
continues to work.

Unfortunately, it hasn't worked nearly as well after the dust up/blow up. 
If you look at the number of posts per month when someone like John doesn't
start a big discussion, it's down about 90% from before the times of
trouble.  

Dan M. 


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Re: A Real Free Market in Health Care

2009-08-17 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net



Original Message:
-
From: John Williams jwilliams4...@gmail.com
Date: Sun, 16 Aug 2009 23:21:45 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: A Real Free Market in Health Care



Another good reason for heath status insurance 

John, you realize what you are arguing, don't you.  If the number a is too
big, then do a bit of algebra and obtain a =b*(1+c).  Pay b and c.  Guess
what, with this type of algebra, nothing is gained.

Now, there will always be niche markets for things like health status
insuranceespecially when health insurance tends to be year by year. So,
someone in their 20s could pay extra to be in a big pool when they are 50. 
But, the only reason that young folks can pay  health insurance costs is
that they don't have families and are in the low risk pool.  So, they
postpone the inevitable.

There is a reason why there isn't affordable long term insurance.  It's in
the algebra.  

What you are searching for is akin to trying to find an even prime number.

Dan M. 


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Re: A Real Free Market in Health Care

2009-08-17 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

Did someone say John's been on this list for 10 years?  Did I misread
that??

I told John many of us had been.  Maybe that got mangled.  Maybe by me. :-)

Dan M. 





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Brin-:L the 2nd decade

2009-08-17 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: John Williams jwilliams4...@gmail.com
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2009 20:08:44 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market


I was just asking questions.

Actually, the same question has been asked and answered N times.  Nomominal
social behavior is for the asker to either help the various responders
understand why he doesn't get the answer or to acknowledge that his
question has been answered.

BTW, like an old married couple, we're sorta exhausted lines of discussion
on this list because hundreds to thousands of posts have been written by
the long standing members of the list.  We know each other and know each
other's positions.  For this, and other reasons that Rob alluded to,
traffic on this list has dropped down. 

I'll give you points for being a novelty.  It's easy to respond to your
posts, many of them are hanging curves, belt high over the middle of the
plate for those who differ with you.  But, I think most people, and not
just me, would like actual dialoglike we use to have.  BTW, I still am
having IM discussions with a former list member who's become a very good
friendand I've learned a lot.  IIRC, he's publishing in four different
types of professional journals virtually simultaneously as we write.

Dan M. 


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Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market

2009-08-16 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net
Rob wrote:

 
LOL.I'm the cellar dweller!

Yea, that's true, but we know why.  That's where all the best list wines
are kept.

Dan M. 


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Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market

2009-08-16 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


FWIW the _Atlantic_ article is well worth reading carefully.  I've 
already forwarded the link with my recommendation to a couple of 
other lists, and got a couple of comments back.  

The problems the article lists are real; I won't argue that the present
system is really messed up.  However, the solution of having high
deductables has been tried; and the results are counterprodutive.  People
under those conditions eschew paying for services until they reach crisis
porportions, then they go in. They gamble that things will get better on
their own, and if they lose, they only risk their deductable.

Obama, yesterday, was right on target when he said there was no single
silver bullet for this problem.  But, we do know things can be better,
because we are paying twice as much as the average developed country per
person with worse than average results.

FWIW, I've discussed this with numerous professionals (including my
brother-in-law who is one of the few doctors who take Medicaid paitients
and patients who can pay only part of their bill, a friend who was the
chief administrator of a hospital ranked one of the 100 best in the US,
before she went on to an even better hospital, and others who develop new
products and are frustrated with how hard it is to get them past
regulations and into use.

Ironically, one of the things that John is ralling about has become the
rallying cry for the anti-government groups: any attempt to decrease the
spending of hundreds of thousands on the last month of life so mom or dad
could painfully exist the world in four weeks insteasd of four days.  Thank
God my sister was a hospice nurse, so we knew enough to discuss this and
let dad die when gangrine formed in his legs at 90 when his circulation
dropped. 

We could have had an expensive painful amputation, used extrodinary
measures, and he would have lived a couple more years in agony and
dementia.  We chose to let him die.  Counseling on this is not a death
panel, and Congressmen villifying this after promoting it is some of the
worst bad faith I remember in politics.

Dan M. 


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Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market

2009-08-16 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Trent Shipley tship...@deru.com
Date: Sun, 16 Aug 2009 15:19:16 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market



 Obama, yesterday, was right on target when he said there was no single
 silver bullet for this problem.  But, we do know things can be better,
 because we are paying twice as much as the average developed country per
 person with worse than average results.

I have heard, but have been too lazy to confirm, that there is a GDP per
capita health care spending curve, and as a very affluent country the
USA is almost right where it should be on that predictive model.  

Well, the curve would have to be a specially shaped curve for that to be
true. In 2 minutes I found:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2004ra
nk.html

and

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2004ra
nk.html

Note how Norway per capita GDP is 20% higher than that of the US, yet it's
percentage of GDP spending on health care is only 58%. 

Looking further we see that it's infant mortality rate is just of half of
the US's,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_infant_mortality_rate

 and its life expectency is 19th in the world compared to the US's 45th

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy


I've been to Norway many times and know a number of Norwegians.  It's
government is one of the more socialistic governments in Europe and is far
more intrusive in the ecconomy than the US's.  

I can't do a scatter plot here, but, if you did a polynomial fit that
predicted this, you would need as many orders as data points. :-) 

So, with only 5 minutes of work, I have pulled up data falsifying this
propaganda.

Dan M. 


Dan M. 


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Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market

2009-08-15 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

The most enjoyable discussions for me involve new ideas or points of view
that I have not encountered before. People interested in SF seem to be
more likely to have unique ideas than people who are not SF fans. Not
that there isn't a lot of noise of conventional ideas mixed
in...anyway, I write about my points of view, and hopefully they are
interesting to some, and I hope others will do the same.


Well, that explains a  lot.  There are some _very_ old ideas that I accept
(e.g. a good position needs logical consistency) that I see as being the
cause of us going in circles. For what it's worth, virtually nothing you've
written has been new to me.  I've seen new combinations, but virtually all
of them involve, IMHO, contradictions that are not accepted by the author. 
My humble opinion is that, with most internet discussions  Ecclesiastes 1:9
is right on target.

The value of these discussions, IMHO, is when both parties agree to accept
ground rules of logical arguement and data.  I realize that my request for
that has been called by you trying to impose my will on others.  But, if
you look at where actual progress has been made (e.g. in science), that has
always been present. 

Thanks for giving me information that helps me figure out from where you
are writing.  I am very much oblidged for you doing this.  I just find it
amusing how different your view and Shelly Glashow's views are concerning
the vetting of new ideas(he was one of 3 people who developed the standard
model of physics).

Dan M. 

Dan M. 





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Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market

2009-08-15 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

I do agree that there is little experimentation going on right now in  
government.  One of the best reasons for getting humanity out into  
space is to allow that experimentation to begin again. 

One thing to remember about experimentation:  99.99% of experiments fail;
they do not achieve the goals they set out to achieve.  In physics,
theorists have come up with tens if not hundreds of thousands of wrong
theories.  Shelly Glashow, who I mentioned, said he came up with 5 new
theories per day.  Only one of his really paid off...and it paid off big. 
Most experiments in physics don’t find the new and exciting thing they are
looking for; they just find that the 2 sigma signal they spent 2 years
getting more data on disappear.

Economic studies have shown that, for average entrepreneurs, the business
ends up failing and costing money. We are fortunate that we have these
folks, because every once in a while they come up with something that
_really_ benefits everyone.  But, even averaging the winners in, the
average person taking a risk on a new business loses money.

Finally, we do have experimentation in government.  California and Texas
have very different governments; and very different sets of problems. 
California is wining the race down to failure, it seems.because Texas
doesn't have much of a housing problem and is not about to go bankrupt.

You may argue that these are minimalistic changes; and they are.  But big
changes work better in fiction than in fact.  The American Republic stands
almost uniquely as a radically new form of government that worked.  (It’s
not the only working form of representative government, of course, but the
other representative governments changed to something close to 1 man 1 vote
after the US was shown to survive the Civil War.)


Dan M.



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A Real Free Market in Health Care

2009-08-12 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net
People on this list have argued for the advantages of a free market system
for health care and health care insurance.  I have thought about it, and
decided to apply what we know from other markets that have considerable
less government intervention.

For example, big screen TVs.  If you have the money and want it enough, you
decide to buy it.  If you don't have the money, you don't buy it.

So, if a heart bypass will save someone's life, and they don't have the
cash to pay for it and the banks won't loan them the money, they die.  If
someone cannot afford chemotherapy, they don't get it.  Thus, they die.

The closest thing we have to this in the US are those folks who don't have
health insurance and do not qualify for Medicare.  We find that those among
this group are more likely to die if they have a first stage cancer than
someone with health insurance and a second stage cancer. And, this even
with the non-free market principal that hospitals must provide care if
death is imminent without care.

Now, one might argue that privately bought insurance is the answer to this.
Well, normal insurance for someone with no history of health problems is
about 6500 per year for an individual and about 14k/year for a family
(paying for COBRA for my daughter who's between being covered by our health
care and health care from her first real job gives me the first number
pretty accurately).  

But, if one has risk, one has to get risk pool insurance.  I own my own
business, and looked at private insurance vs. COBRA for our family.  The
health insurance broker looked at our family and gave up...my wife had a
pre-existing condition, which meant he couldn't compete.  My friend who is
also self-employed has a wife with diabetes.  He has to pay in the 40k
range for basic, no frills insurance.  

If we extend this to eliminating Medicare, we will clearly see that as one
ages, one goes from the low risk to the high risk pool.  Thus, older people
will find that they would have to pay 40k+ for insurance.  

For the vast majority of them, this will exceed the maximum amount of
income they could devote to insurance (assuming they ate and lived
somewhere cheap).  Thus, they would not have insurance, and would be
looking at any serious treatment as too expensive.

The result would be that a lot of people would die far sooner.  John
Williams pointed out the absurdity of paying for very expensive surgery for
those in there late 80s, who are likely to die soon.  I don't disagree with
thatthe US system is just about the only one where that happens.  But,
let’s say someone can have chemotherapy at 70, the cancer goes into
remission, and they live another 15 years.  That's not absurd, IMHO.

So, I'm curious.  Do the advocates of switching to the only totally free
market health care system in the world, you know those who are not their
brothers keepers, think that we are morally obliged to go to a system that
will lower US life expectancy significantly (probably 5-10 years)?

Dan M.



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Re: Why not discuss the topic?

2009-08-12 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: John Williams jwilliams4...@gmail.com
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 10:30:03 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: Why not discuss the topic?


On Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 6:43 AM, Dan Mdsummersmi...@comcast.net wrote:

 Your writings are consistent with the viewpoint of one who knows
government
 is the root cause of all that is wrong a priori, and needs not look at
data
 to look at the truth.

Just so you know:

1) I saw your similar post about this the first time, several weeks ago

2) We had a similar discussion last year

3) Because of 2) and things that you write like the above quoted
paragraph, I am not interested in discussing this with you

Actually, I gave a lot more data this timebecause I believe ecconomics
is an emperical subject. I looked for data that would support my
arguement...checked it with someone who has a lot of old schoolmates who
worked for the investment banks, and then wrote.  I'm sure you see why I am
coming to the conclusion that you'd like to avoid specifics when discussing
this topic. I can understand why, data do not support your conclusions.

Dan M.  

Dan M. 


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Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market

2009-08-12 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: John Williams jwilliams4...@gmail.com
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 10:56:01 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market


On Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 7:01 AM, Dan Mdsummersmi...@comcast.net wrote:

 John, would you agree that some sort of community system, like the
courts,
 are necessary to resolve disputes over true ownership of property,
 contracts, and the like?

Necessary, no, I can imagine alternatives that might be practical, at
least on a small scale. But desirable, yes, I think it is a good idea
to have some sort of government justice system to settle contractual
and legal disagreements. I've never met anyone who thinks that a free
market means total anarchy. A free market simply means that people are
free to enter into agreements with others. If these agreements are
formalized into a contract, then it is a good idea to have some way --
that all parties agree is fair -- to enforce the contract. I think a
government controlled enforcement system is a good idea, since I
suspect that any privately run enforcement system would be more likely
to be suborned than a government controlled system.


I thought you'd say that, it's a reasonable position.  But, I know from
personal experience, that one of the main tactics of Fortune 500
corporations is to game the legal system in order to take the property of
others.

I'll give three examples from personal experience. Yes, these are
individual stories, but since the number of personal connections I have is
limitedit gives a much better measure of what actually happens than
stories that are told by people who sample all possible stories of what has
happened in the US.

#1. Friends of mine invented geosteering.  They signed away their rights to
the patent as a matter of employmentit's a pre-requsite and not really
the problem I'm talking about.  A competitor patented something that, by
law, they could not patent.  They couldn't because they had disclosed it
before the patent. The company they, and I worked for, patented this
geosteering technique.  If the law were enforced properly, our former
employer would get 5% royalties for the use of the patented technique,
while paying nothing for the invention of the other company.

But, as things ususally go, it's not what reality is; it's how good your
lawyers are and how big you are.  Our employers were rolled and ended up
paying for a bogus patent and getting $0.00 for their own patent.  One
emperical fact that butresses this is the fact that the most junior patent
lawyer makes far more than the top inventor.

The problem is sometimes corruption.  But, even with a non-corrupt system,
the judge is does not possess ordinary skill in the art.  The value of a
patent is not fact based, but how well you can convince a judges.  Sure,
there is the occasional exception, like variable wiper blades, which make
great movies.  But, that is the exception.  Even patent examiners, who have
to be engineers, do not know enough about the fields they judge to seperate
the wheat from the chaff.

#2.  I sat on a Fortune 500 company's patent commitee for 7 years.  I
listened very carefullly when senior legal council spoke.  The said flat
out our policy is to use our muscle to roll anyone small who has a patent
claimthey can't stand up to us.  They all but admitted that they would
fold before anyone bigger.

#3.  One of the two key inventors asked for a raise.  He was laughed at to
his face who'd hire you was the quote.  It turned out that this company,
and the other two companies in the field had an agreement to honor each
others illegal restriction on workers.  Now, it was illegal to restrict
employmentafter the employee spent his life savings in court he could
get that rulingbut it was legal to honor such restrictions.

#4.  You might argue that this would be a perfect place for a start-up.  It
was.  They were hired by a start-up and promply sued for millions for theft
of intellectual property.  The property was everything they knew.  After a
couple of years, and  10 million dollars, a deal was reached.  The startup
would hire no more people who had been employed by the suing company and
the charges would be dropped.  They learned their lesson.

#5.  One of our good friends holds the first bioengeering patent.  His
partner ended up buying the patent from the company he worked for when it
closed.  He found a major corporation violated it.  He tried to enforce the
patent.

His laywer told him it was a hopeless case: they were too big and he was
too small.  But, since it was worth multi-millions he pressed on.  That was
a _big_ mistake.  They countersued with scores of false infringement
claims.  Each one took hours of paperwork to counter, as well as legal
fees.  After he lost 300k, he was asked willing to give up?
  He had to, he was out of money.

So, even the minimal government involvement is gamed by those with power. 
In a pure 

Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market

2009-08-12 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net
This went just to john instead of the list twice.  I'm not sure why.


On Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 4:40 PM, 
dsummersmi...@comcast.netdsummersmi...@comcast.net wrote: 
 
Sounds like you have a problem with the government-run patent system. 
 
 If you understood the patent system and how these issues arise, you would 
 know that isn't true.  These issues are settled in the courts, not by 
 patent examiners. 
 
 What I was trying to point out is that even the most minimal government 
 possible: courts that decide property and contract law, are subject to 
 gaming by those who can have the resources to game the system.  The fact 
 that the bottom of the rung gamer is paid _a lot_ more than the top 
 innovator tells me something loud and clear: 
 
 gaming the system is more important the coming up with the innovation 
 yourself. 
 
 The patent system itself has its flaws, but those are not the critical 
 factors.  _On paper_ the system works just fine.  It's just that the way
it 
 really works, like most contract law, the Golden Rule of Texas is
followed. 
 
 The way to make money, as was pointed out on the local business program,
is 
 to insert yourself into the money stream.  Thus, investment bankers who 
 lost trillions for others made billions for themselves, using a model
that 
 was inherently flawed but was thought to be a brilliant financial 
 breakthrough by virtually everyone in the financial system. 
 
 Dan M. 
 




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Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market

2009-08-12 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

Actually, I favor no patent or IP restrictions. I do not know of any
way to prevent gaming the system, and I think the benefits of the
system, as implemented, are outweighed by the costs, several of which
Dan mentioned.

Lets assume that companies that innovated got nothing more than a few
months head start on the competition copying them.  In that case,
innovation would only happen when the few months paid for all the RD.
Otherwise, the smart move would be to always wait for the other guy to do
all the hard work.

As flawed as things are, as much as it doesn't favor the smaller guys, I'm
in favor of a system that allows those that create wealth to at least
sometimes keep some of it.  If you look at the last 1500 years, you will
see that the increase in wealth per worker is due to innovations.
Occasionally, as with Wal-Mart, the innovations are not patentable but hard
to copy.  But, mostly, they are brand new thing, but once shown..quite
copyable.

In particular, the high cost of drug development and the relative low cost
of production would mean that, without patent protection, there would be
few if any new drugs.  Only fools would throw hundreds of millions in the
toilet.

BTW, I chose IP gaming examples because that's what I know best.  The
entire legal system is subject to gamingwhy do you think there are so
many lawyers who make so much money compared to those folks who create
wealth who make less?


Dan M.

Dan M. 

Dan M. 


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Re: A Real Free Market in Health Care

2009-08-12 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

Compassion, folks.  IAAMOAC.

I agree with your points Jo Anne, and welcome hearing from you.  


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Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market

2009-08-12 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

 BTW, I chose IP gaming examples because that's what I know best.  The
 entire legal system is subject to gamingwhy do you think there are so
 many lawyers who make so much money compared to those folks who create
 wealth who make less?

Thus my earlier statement that we have too many laws and excessively
complex laws. That comes from have too many politicians, and too much
government.

OK, then why do we have so many more lawyers than much more socialistic
countries that have a far more complex history of laws than the US?

There is a model that fits all these data.  The US is the most
individualistic of all the developed countries.  If you traveled or talked
to folks from Europe, you would know that.  We have far more litigation
than any of those countries.  Instead of control by governmental
bureaucrats, we have a version of the old gunfightonly in the courts. 

See, if X is the problem, one would think that reducing X would decrease
the problem.  Yet, the developed country that values and promotes
individualism the most has the most lawyers. 

Dan M.




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Re: A Real Free Market in Health Care

2009-08-12 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Compassion and government are strange bedfellows. I'd prefer to
express my compassion without government.


I understand.  But, since you expressed it as I am not my brother's
keeper, that's what most folks would call no compassion.  You are free to
express itbut we are free to disagree.

Dan M. 


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Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market

2009-08-12 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: John Williams jwilliams4...@gmail.com
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 21:20:38 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market


On Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 8:02 PM, Dan Mdsummersmi...@comcast.net wrote:

 No, that is the fault of the laws as written.  The problem with the court
 system is that they do not understand enough to enforce the laws as
written.

Or it could be that the laws are too many and too poorly written for
the courts to efficiently enforce them.

I wasn't clear. They don't understand enough about what is being regulated
to enforce the laws.  The laws are very clear to me; its how one interprets
these clear laws in the light of facts that are far too complex for the
judge to understand.

 Or, if you just want to consider the law, think about the Bill of Rights.
 The Bill of Rights is a _very_ simple document.  Its interpretation has
been
 varied, subtle and complex.

What percentage of lawyers or court time do you think is expended on
arguing cases about the Bill of Rights?

Well, directly, few.  But, from the Bill of Rights, we obtain court rulings
or precidents for numerous occasions.  Every criminal case involves many of
these.

Just as Maxwells laws are as simple as can be, but the application of them
in real world situations is usually very complex.

I would bet a beer against a case that you have never created, say, 10
million dollars of wealth by taking a very complex situation into something
simple.  If you had, I'd be shocked if you had the attitudes you did.  Not
trying to diss you, but your posts do not covey the understanding of the
essense of simplicity and complexity and their application to practical
problems.  If you have understandings that I do not see, then I'd be very
interested in hearing them.

Dan M. 



Dan M. 

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Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market

2009-08-12 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net
Sorry John,

After several posts went to Brin-L I thought the problem was fixed.  The
ones that do and those that don't all have similar headers oh my side.

Original Message:
-
From: John Williams jwilliams4...@gmail.com
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 21:30:31 -0700
To: dsummersmi...@comcast.net, brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: The Role of Government in a Libertarian Free Market


On Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 7:39 PM,
dsummersmi...@comcast.netdsummersmi...@comcast.net wrote:

 OK, then why do we have so many more lawyers than much more socialistic
 countries that have a far more complex history of laws than the US?

I'm no really following you. Do you mean to suggest that number of
lawyers is a metric for the quality (or disfunctionality?) of a court
system?

No, its a metric on what fraction of GDP is spent on litigation.  Since
litigation doesn't create wealth, is a drain on society. I also assume that
where there are more lawyers, we have the legal system used as a means of
individuals assering what they consider their rights in the part of
government that libertarians favor.

And why are you comparing to socialist governments? I would think you
would compare to something as similar as possible. There are so many
other things (than number of laws) that could affect the number of
lawyers in a country with a socialist government.

Ah, and since I can't track down every possibility, you immunize yourself
against falisfication, again.  I was going for simplicity, which you say
you like, but every time I use it you diss it.



 See, if X is the problem, one would think that reducing X would decrease
 the problem.  Yet, the developed country that values and promotes
 individualism the most has the most lawyers.

When America was young and had much fewer laws and less government,
did it have more lawyers?

OK, lets look at the 20 and early 30s, when the government was much
smaller.  Key interpretation of laws clearly posed tremendous restrictions
on most people.  

It's not getting silly.  It's just not going the way you want the facts to
go.  That != silly.

Dan M. 




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Re: A Real Free Market in Health Care

2009-08-12 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net
I think I fell victim to several non-glitches in a row and accidently sent
this to just John.  Sorry.  But, I found a fast way to fix it...so I'll try
to be good from now on.

Original Message:
-
From: John Williams jwilliams4...@gmail.com
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 21:36:46 -0700
To: dsummersmi...@comcast.net, brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: A Real Free Market in Health Care


On Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 7:43 PM,
dsummersmi...@comcast.netdsummersmi...@comcast.net wrote:

 I understand.  But, since you expressed it as I am not my brother's
 keeper, that's what most folks would call no compassion.  You are free to
 express itbut we are free to disagree.

Why do we always end up with such silly exchanges? Of course you are
free to judge me to have no compassion. Seems a rather cruel
judgement, though.

Well, when you quote Cain as a fudmental moral position, you write words
that result in a straight reading of the text leading to that conclusion.

Dan M.


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Why not discuss the topic?

2009-07-17 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: John Williams jwilliams4...@gmail.com
Date: Fri, 17 Jul 2009 18:59:48 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: WeChooseTheMoon


On Fri, Jul 17, 2009 at 5:55 PM, Dan Mdsummersmi...@comcast.net wrote:

 Folks do get health care, just not in an efficient or timely fashion.  In
 fact, my Republican congressman says that about 20% of the cost of health
 care for those with insurance is covering the care and the overhead for
 hiding the cost of the care of those who can't pay for the care they need
 not to die.

I can pay not to die? Is there a guarantee?

I know you are neither stupid nor ignorant.  Why don't you converse in a
manner that adresses the ideas presented instead of trying to find  a way
not to?

 I have A Modest Proposal on this.  The free market would be part of
 evolutionthose who cannot afford healthcare would be considered unfit
 until all humans could afford it. :-)

It? Afford what, exactly? Presumably I don't get the joke.

Health care if one gets seriously ill twice.  Come on, you have to know the
underlying facts. Why not present your vantage point given those facts. 
There are arguements for the free market. My Congressman wants a free
market solution, and I respect him because he doesn't pretend facts don't
exist.  

I realize you can make smart ass comments, but I've been hearing back from
when newsgroups were new and hot. Don't they get boring?  Why not agree
upon facts and play chess; where one's opponents are one's friends because
they are the ones who help you understand more?

Dan M. 




Dan M. 
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RE: WeChooseTheMoon

2009-07-16 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net
An interesting aside on this.  It took the Mercury program a bit over 9
months to go from the first sub-orbital flight to the first orbital flight.

The big private enterprise sub-orbital flight happened almost 5 years ago
(5 years this coming November IIRC).  It cost 100 million to develop, and
won a prize of 10 million.  I can find nothing in development for private
orbital flight. (By private I mean without government money, not government
contractors).  I have no idea when it will happen, but I will bet a case of
beer against one beer that it will be more than 10 years from the first
sub-orbital flight.

Yes, we have announcement of Virgin planning sub-orbital flights in a
big-time manner, which will probably be close enough to break even to be
worth it in PR.  And, the owner is a multi-billionaire who could afford it.
But, I think it very worth noting that we are not talking about a step that
took the government less than a year not being on the privatae horizen
after 5 years.  There is something fundamental going on here, IMHO.

Dan M. 




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Re: WeChooseTheMoon

2009-07-16 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Bruce Bostwick lihan161...@sbcglobal.net
Date: Thu, 16 Jul 2009 16:04:59 -0500
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: WeChooseTheMoon



It seems like a cruel joke nowadays, that 1950's-1960's technology  
landed human beings on the moon and all the more modern technology  
we had later on fell so far short of that mark.  I'm with Pournelle on  
that .. never thought I'd live to see the last ones.

One thing that the non-inventor and/or non technical project leader often
fails to have a gut feel for is how often advances are dictated by where
5000 foot sheer cliffs and what passes appear as we explore new landscape. 
I have buddies that made tremendous leaps forward in just a year or two;
I've also been part of efforts that looked promising at first, but ended up
being dead ends.

If you look at the last 40 years of development most of it has been tied,
directly or indirectly, to Moore's law. For example, in my field, I and my
productive friends would never have been able to design tools without the
myriad uses that we put computers to.  It allowed us to model responses, it
allowed us to build better mechanical parts, it allowed for far superior
electronics design, it allowed us to run fast computers at 175C with tools
that withstand shocks of 1000G and rms vibrations of 20G over a vast random
frequency range for hours.  Without computers being fast, none of this
would have been possible.

Unfortunately, aerospace is a place where, after 40 years of development, a
30% savings in fuel cost is a big thing.  There is a cliff there, and no
passes have been found since the heady days of the '60s.  But, remember,
that was a time when engineering was paid cost plus, and money was no
object.

Dan M. 


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Re: Drinking Water From Air Humidity

2009-07-13 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Charlie Bell char...@culturelist.org
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 2009 19:25:51 +1000
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: Drinking Water From Air Humidity


Charlie wrote:

Read it again properly, and don't treat me like a first grader.

I asked how much energy is required and you said none.  I read the reply
three times, an d at best the answer seemed to sidestep the question.as
did every promotional piece on it.  Having lived in a hot humid climate,
and having gone through a month of humid weather with no rain, I have some
feel for how energy intensive this process is in the middle of the day in
Houston, where it is extremely humid.  Far more humid than more deserts.


It's a WIND TURBINE. I said it was a wind turbine in my original post.  

Right, and there are wind turbines that passed me on the road capable of
generating multiple MW per hour.  I was trying to find out if anyone had
numbers on the name plate capacity of the turbine vs. the liters per day.

Because it clearly won't work well at any time but the pre dawn hours in
the desert.  The collectors have to be cooled below the dew point. Let me
give a US example.  In Las Vegas yesterday, in the heat of the day, the
temperature was 42C, while the dew point was -1C.  Even shaded, it takes
tremendous power to keep collectors that cold while deliberately being
exposed to a very hot wind. 

At the coolist hour, the temp was 28C, and the dew point rose to 4 C.  At
that temperature difference, with a perfect lossless system, roughly 10% of
the total cooling has to be added as power. Between the cooling necessary
to keep a panel cooling the atmosphere as it blows past it, and the energy
emitted by the latent heat of vaporization, there's quite a bit of energy
per liter involved.  

How much involves a lot of specifics.  Inherently its the type of problem
one usually solves by reading the specificationsbecause I'd have to
guess a lot on the efficiency of the unit in only cooling the air it takes
water out of and maximizing how much it cools it.  For example, if the dew
point is 2C and the condensor is 1C, one only takes the water that
represents the water capacity of air at 2C vs. 1C out of the atmosphere.
So, one would need to pick a lower tempbut how low depends on
specifics, and is a days long enegeering problem.  But, none of the promos
offer specifications. 

No external source of energy. Self contained. OK if you want to be  
super pedantic you can say wind or light is the external source of  
energy, but to me that means energy that has to be transported to site  
like fuel or power lines.

But, self contained electricity units are very ineffecient and thus
expensive.  In a sense, self-contained energy production is usually seen by
the public as not counting.  But, if we were to compare its efficiency
vs. desalinisation in energy/liter, we'd need to know the energy per liter
numberssomething that's just not available.

In essense, for this to work in the desert, it would have to cool
condensors to below freezing to then cool the air below the dew point. And,
this system would only work at all decently in the few hours before dawn if
the wind was blowing hard. 

In other words, I'd bet a case vs. a bottle of beer that it's a lot
prettier on paper than in practice as a means of providing, say, Las Vegas,
with drinking water.  Because turbines supply the energy doesn't mean that
its energy efficient. 

Dan M. 
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Re: French tour etiquette

2009-07-07 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Charlie Bell char...@culturelist.org
Date: Tue, 7 Jul 2009 19:02:24 +1000
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: French tour etiquette

... the greatest show on earth

Well, IMHO, today was pretty exciting.  Do you remember when a rider had
the best time on tour without wearing the yellow jersey before?  I'm not
complaining as an American, it seems to me that having only 1 yellow
jeresey wearer is reasonable, and going to the hundreths of a second to
determine which of the two who are tied for the yellow actually wears it is
the most logical thing to do.  But, it's unique in my experience for this
to happenand it is expected to last for several days because, IIRC, all
riders who finish in a bunch finish get the same time, so it will be
mountain time before we get a new yellow.  All in all, I enjoyed today's
coverage.

Dan M. 

You got it - as team leader, Contador is serviced and protected by his  
domestiques. But team leader or not, if you're in yellow, you're the  
leader of Le Tour, and you have every right to expect your team to  
help you defend it.

And as it's looking like it was Contador's inexperience or inattention  
that facilitated the split, he should probably keep his head well in  
until the climb to Andorra.

Charlie.
GCU Go Cavo!!! first brit to defend a green jersey ever class

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Re: Iran

2009-06-27 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Charlie Bell char...@culturelist.org
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 2009 12:10:27 +1000
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: Iran



On 28/06/2009, at 8:15 AM, Dan M wrote:

 Even with reporters locked up in their hotel rooms, I would guess than
 marches of tens of thousands would be heard in the hotels.  The  
 types of
 reports that are getting out indicate that, if anything, the younger  
 more
 militant aspects of the guard are increasing their power.  (I'm  
 thinking of
 the folks who captured a UK ship as an example).

Um... a ship? Do you mean the Marines patrol boat a couple of years  
ago? Wasn't a ship.

Sorry Charlie.  You have to remember that, when I was I kid I was on many a
boat longer than 200 meters, with the biggest over 300 meters and  30k
tons.   I realize that it wasn't a big ship, but the way I was raised:
saltwater=ship, freshwater=boat.  Size didn't matter. But that's what I
meant, yea. Even in Britian you might have heard the song the Wreck of the
Edmund Fitzgerald.  I was on the Mighty Fitz a number of times and can
still close my eyes amd remember the smell of those boats.

Dan M. 


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Re: On the Housing Market

2009-02-23 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: David Hobby hob...@newpaltz.edu
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2009 00:08:53 -0500
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: On the Housing Market


Rceeberger wrote:

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-housing-chart-thats-worth-1000-words-2009
-2 
 
 
 Housing prices may still have a ways to fall.

Rob--

Wow.  That's certainly what the chart shows.

Is it really that clear?  If it were, you'd
think that enough investors would have bet
against the housing bubble that it never
would have happened.


The bubble was that clear, particularly where housing prices skyrocketed up
on the coasts, in NV, etc. There is no way that a doubling in price is
anything but a bubble. But, the house I sold, I had to put in about $10k of
upgrades and sold at about 10k over what I bought (in inflation ajdusted
dollars), so the bubble isn't everywhere.  But, we're now starting to drop
in value as the market dries up.

Houses are now much bigger than they were in the '50s, GDP per capita is
much higher, etc.  So, a rise in inflation adjusted home prices is not
inherently inappropriate: one would not expect to pay the same price for a
3000 sq. ft. house as for a 1500 sq. ft. house, especially if the 3000 sq.
ft. house is much nicer. The rent vs. own question is still important. 
Right now, we're living in a 1350 sq. ft. apartment that costs more than
our mortgage payments were on our 3000 sq. ft. house.  Working it all out,
if it wasn't for the value of getting our appreciation while we did and the
relative ease of leaving an apartment when Teri got called, it would have
been cheaper to stay in the big house, maintaince costs and all.

Dan M. 

So, home prices could now be 10% overvalued.  


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Re: Galactic Effect On Biodiversity

2009-01-25 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

I didn't read about it before last night but this summary of the problem of
induction from the Wikipedia article on the Cosmological Principal
describes
my feelings rather well:

Empirical observations of patterns occurring within a limited scope can 
shed no light on the state of things outside that scope.

If you really believe that, then you would throw most of evolutionary
theory out, beause we've only been making good scientific measurements over
a very limited scope of time, say the last 150-200 years.

But, in evolution, we make inferences concerning time by all sorts of
different methods.  I consider them valid measurements. Just as I consider
orbiting telescope measurements valid measurements of distant, past events.
But, there is no scientific arguement that can possibly counter Last
Thursdayism.

But, if we limit ourselves to science modeling what we observe, then having
both the universe and life on earth evolve over billions of years makes
sense.

The next assumption that I would make is that the earth is not in a
phenomenally unique position in the universe.  I think entropy is a good
model to see what I mean.  Take for example, a glass full of milk
delecately balance on the edge of a counter.  A draft of air hits it; it
falls, and hits the carpet.  The glass is broken an the milk is spilled,
soaking the carpet.

At a microscopic level, each process involved is reversible.  There is an
extrodinarily samll but very real chance that macroscopic phenomenon would
reverse, and the milk would unsoak, regather; the glass would reattach
itself and the glass of milk would find its way back on the counter.  

The arguement against this is entropy, but that's statistical.  The chance
of this happening is 1 in 10 to the zillinth power, but not zero. 

Positing that our galaxie is not in a unique place in the universe is akin
to this.  It would be arguing that we happen to be at the very center of
the universe, and the highly isotropic nature of the observed universe in
all directions is merely a result of this.  You can't disprove this
assumption, but we know no reason to accept it.  So, models assume that our
galaxy is not singular in its position.

Finally, I assume that modern physics (say from SR on) is correct, and we
do not live in a Newtonian/Maxwellian universe.  If you give me that much,
I can show why the principal alternatives to the big bang have far bigger
problems in matching data than does the big bang (especially as modified by
inflation).

It will take some work to walk through the physics.  I don't mind doing it,
but don't want to do this if the real difference in our viewpoints are with
the basic assumptions each of us are making.  Not to accuse you of
anything, but it feels to me that you are tacitly assuming that QM is
inherently wrong.becasue if I am allowed to assume QM, SR, and GR, the
arguement becomes pretty straightforward.  From past discussions, I think
you differ with physicists in that you want science to describe reality
instead of merely modeling observations. 

But, I will stand to be corrected, I just don't want to write long posts
that are not germaine to your main arguement.

Dan M. 

Dan M.


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Re: Galactic Effect On Biodiversity

2009-01-25 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


On 26/01/2009, at 7:38 AM, dsummersmi...@comcast.net wrote:

 Empirical observations of patterns occurring within a limited scope  
 can
 shed no light on the state of things outside that scope.

 If you really believe that, then you would throw most of evolutionary
 theory out, beause we've only been making good scientific  
 measurements over
 a very limited scope of time, say the last 150-200 years.

Given that it's the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin  
this year, and that built on a couple of decades of research by  
Darwin... Most of evolutionary theory was built in the last 100 years,  
once the mechanism of heredity was worked out and the statistical  
tools were developed to actually test Darwin's ideas. You would not  
throw out most of evolutionary theory at all, by your criterion.


Really, it's amazing how much of what most people think they know  
about biological science, particularly evolutionary biology, is  
completely wrong.


I think that I didn't clearly communicate my point. I read the paragraph
you wrote above and there is nothing that contradicts the understanding I
had when I wrote my post.

I was getting at another point entirely. For evolution to make sense, you
have to have millions of years of time over which it occured.  If the
observations we have made since, say, 50 years before Darwin, shed no light
at all over what happened before that time, how do we understand evolution?
If, for example, fusion wasn't found, we'd be scratching our heads because
we couldn't reconcile the maximum length of time that the sun could
possibly shine with the intensity it does (I think about 6,000 years
without nuclear physics) and the length of time needed for what we see now
to evolve from the most primitive form of life. All evolutionary models
that I've seen have  1 billion years between the time that life first
existed and now.  There are no young earth evolutionary models that are
real scientific theories (well maybe there is a falsified theory that I
don't know about, but you know what I mean). 


The model extends over a time frame that is many orders of magnitude than
do the observations.  That's all I was saying. I understand that evolution
is the best means we have to understand biology, and it's not just a means
to understand fossils, and that fossils are in no way essential to the
theory.

Fossil record, for example. It's nice that the fossil record is there  
and is so detailed, but it's entirely superfluous to evolutionary  
theory. There are nice overlaps, but evolutionary theory explains the  
fossil record, not the other way round. 

Yea, models are verified by observations of all kinds.  If they don't match
observations, they aren't good models. The more data to check the theory
against the better.  The smaller the difference that falsifies the model,
the better. (BTW, like most physicists, I see scientific theories as models
of observations)  But, my point is that our understanding of life as it
exists now is an evolutionary theory that describes a process that took far
longer than the time scale over which scientific observations were made. 
Thus, if this is verbotten, then evolution wouldn't be accepted by the
person who wouldn't accept that process.

To summerize the arguement I was trying to make:

Evolution is accepted as a well verified scientific theory (I knew Doug
accepted this).

Evolution is a theory that describes a process that requires far more time
than the time frame over which observations were made.

Therefore, if one rejects theories that require time scales that are
greater than the time range of observations, then one must reject valid
scientific theories, like evolution.

None of the other stuff you were argueing against has anything to do with
the point I was making.

Dan M. 


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Re: Galactic Effect On Biodiversity

2009-01-25 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

Original Message:
-
From: Doug Pensinger brig...@zo.com
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2009 15:15:44 -0800
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: Galactic Effect On Biodiversity


Dan wrote:

If you really believe that, then you would throw most of evolutionary
 theory out, beause we've only been making good scientific measurements
over
 a very limited scope of time, say the last 150-200 years.


The difference in limits of scope between evolution on earth and universal
evolution, if you will, are vast.  

Not that vast. Now, as Charlie pointed out, I'm no expert in biology, but
everything I've read indicates the timescale of the universe and the
timescale of life on earth are best estimated to be within a factor of 10
of each other. Wikipedia (not the best source I know but probably good for
an estimate) has single cell life existing on the earth for  3 billion
years.  

We have data points from near the beginning of life on earth to the
present, but 
in UE we have comparatively few data points.  

A couple of things.  First, I've long understood that fossil records are
not critical to the theory of evolution (just to reinforce the point that
I've long in _agreement_ with Charlie's point on this).  Second, fossil
records are not measurements made in the past, but measurements made in the
present that fit a model that extends far into the past. 

Similar things can be done with cosmology.  I'd be happy to show why other
models, that assume that the age of what is observed is vastly shorter than
is assumed by the astrophysics community, have been fasified by the array
of available data.

Beyond that, where in EE we can observe and experiment
upon the entire real time scope, in UE we must make our observations from
a minuscule point within the system.  I return to my analogy about the tiny
observer 1000 feet beneath the sea.  How much of earths evolution could
that
observer deduce?

Well, that observer can't see very far.  How far can we see with our
orbiting telescopes (tuned to various wavelengths)?

 The arguement against this is entropy, but that's statistical.  The
chance
 of this happening is 1 in 10 to the zillinth power, but not zero.


Isn't this kind of a straw man?  A fair coin will come up heads half the
time, but an unfair coin is far from inconceivable.

No, but if we observe billions upon billions of fair coins(galaxies), why
would we live on one of the few unfair coins? In the sense I was talking
about, we know that galaxies are receding from us at the same distance/pace
rate (to within 1 part in 10,000) in every direction.  The simplest
assumption is that this is true for an observer in any given galaxy.  Now
you could assume that the earth just happens to be in the middle of the
universe, or in another extremely rare spot, but then I think you need to
explain why.  

Now, if you were arguing that there is variation in the universe and things
like the speed of light varies, then that is a different story. People have
made up models with variable fine structure constants, etc.  Those have
testable results, and up to now, they have provided results that do not
match observations.



Ah, but if you read the article on the cosmological principal you would
have
found in the last section (sorry about the font):
I read that.  But, maybe the implications are not clear.  Inflation is
genrally thought to occure in the 10-34 sec to 10-32 seconds after the big
bang.  

http://aether.lbl.gov/www/science/inflation-history.html

from the Lawarance Berkley Lab is my source for these numbers.  I'm
guessing that we don't have these numbers down cold, and the length and
time of inflation might vary a good fraction of an order of magnitude here.
The paper that's being discussed indicates that the data might point to
events happening before 10^-34 seconds. It presupposes the big bang, in
other words.

It is fair to say that inflation has explained a lot.  As one of my
references pointed out, there were quantitative predictions made by the
inflationary model that have later been varified by experimentation.

So, while we still have a lot of uncertainty concerning the first small
fraction of a second after the big bang, we've done a nice job matching the
observed universe down to a universe that existed, say, 1 second after the
big bang.  It has been stated that aspects of the inflationary universe and
anything before inflation involve guesswork.  But, assuming that the
general framework is wrong and we have to start over would take a lot more.



You don't have to show me, I'll take your word for it.  That merely makes
the Big Bang the most correct of all the _proposed_ possibilities and says
nothing about the possibilities we can't even imagine because our powers of
observation and our ability to conduct experiments is so abysmally limited.

But, all science does is model observations.  Rich and I have very
different 
metaphysical viewpoints, but we agree (as does virtually every  physicists
I have talked to 

Re: Galactic Effect On Biodiversity

2009-01-25 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Wayne Eddy we...@bigpond.net.au
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 08:10:41 +1000
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: Galactic Effect On Biodiversity



- Original Message - 
From: dsummersmi...@comcast.net
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Sent: Monday, January 26, 2009 6:38 AM
Subject: Re: Galactic Effect On Biodiversity


 Finally, I assume that modern physics (say from SR on) is correct, and we
 do not live in a Newtonian/Maxwellian universe.  If you give me that much,
 I can show why the principal alternatives to the big bang have far bigger
 problems in matching data than does the big bang (especially as modified 
 by
 inflation).

What are the principal alternatives?  

The main ones I know of are the steady state universe and the various young
universe theories that creationists come up with.  The former was a real
scientific theory, the latter aren't.

Do they include a matrix like we are all living in a simulation scenario?

No, that's metaphysics.


I don't disbelieve the big bang theory, but the theory of evolution seems 
much more elegant and obvious by comparison.

Well, elegance is a YMMV kinda thing. Although I do agree that there is
something inelegant about renormalization, it works very very well, and
nothing has taken its place yet, after almost 60 years.

Also the big bang theory might model things very well, but to me it seems 
somewhat unfullfilling.  The interesting question is, What caused the big 
bang?  That's the real Brane Teaser.


The best explaination I've seen is the freezing of the vacume.  But, at
some point, theories just start with axioms.

Dan M. 


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Re: Scouted: U.S. to collapse in next two years?

2009-01-23 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net
Doug wrote:


Furthermore, because of concerns about climate change and unrest in 
the middle east, a prediction that batteries and cheap electric cars 
are going to be in great demand over the next several decades is a 
good bet.  

I have no arguement against the concept that cheap batteries and cheap
electric cars would be in great demand.  That has beent true since 1973,
when the oil boycott woke us up to the dependance of the world on Mid-East
oil.

Since then, I've been seeing promises of competative electric cars.  When
gas prices were at $4.50/gallon, the premium for hybrids was within $1000
of being a wash.  But, now that prices are back close to $1.50 (around here
at leastbut when we were up near $4.50, I'd guess you were higher too)
hybrid sales are falling like a rock.

So, we've made real progress since '73.  In another 35 years, we may very
well have competative battery powered cars that are flexible enough to be
competative in the US and European markets.  We also may have biofuels that
are sensible because bioengineering has progressed to the point where we
have 20%+ efficiency in converting sunlight to complex, burnable,
hydrocarbons.  

But, until that happens, China will pick the cheapest option.  Even when
oil recovers to reasonable, sustainable prices (say $60-$80/barrel),
hybrids will not make sense until the premium is, roughly, cut in half. 
Compact electric cars are roughly 40k, compared to about 13k for compact
gas cars, and have a range  100 miles/charge.

So, these cars are only for the richand the well off Chinese who can
afford to move up from a bike to a car are not rich by US standards. 
Further, oil usage in a country that is just starting to introduce
automobiles their oil usage is not for private 

So a move to all electric strengthens government control
by alleviating dependence on foreign oil and automobiles and expands the
economy not only internally but globally.

But, the Chinese do make autos,  7 million in 2006.  They import oil, but
they are also a producer, about 60% of their oil is internally produced. 
Coal is their favorite and cheapest option, so that is a plus for
electricity (although a minus for the environment).  So, while they would
have an even better foreign trade balance than they do without importing
oil, they are in a far different position than the US.

For some reason, I keep on getting the feel that those who think that we
can decrease worldwide CO2 output in the next 10 years feel that if nations
only had the will, then they could quickly produce cheap alternative energy.

It's not like the moon race, where price was no object, its more like space
factories, where price is a critical factor.  And so far, prices for
alternative energy are not falling rapidly.  That's why I think we need a
disruptive innovation for things to change. 

 For example, several years ago, there were pollution regulations passed.
 They have all been ignored, with no real consequences.  The only exception
 to this was during the Olympics, when some industries had to shut down and
 most people had to stop driving so Beijing looked as good as possible.


Well, you can only crap upstream for so long before you figure out that
it's
a pretty stupid habit.  

IIRC, we know that's been going on in India for 3000 years.  :-)  



Perhaps the Olympics has been a wake up call for the Chinese.

I haven't seen any data that indicates that the Chinese will be willing to
sacrifice ecconomic growth for pollution control.  That is a tradeoff that
the West agreed to because we were rich enough to have that on the agenda. 
But, it wasn't until the '60s that we did. If history is a guide, China is
a good ways away from having the per capita GDP at which countries start
spending it on pollution control.  Perhaps they will do it faster than
average, but since they are a factor of ~9 less than the US in 2007(5.4k vs
45k on Wikipedia), it would be unrealistic to expect them to accept lower
incomes to attack pollution for at least a decade.  I would guess that
global warming would be an issue for them later than that. 

I think the only possible way to change this pattern is to change the
relative expense of batteries, biofuels, large capacity energy storage,
etc.  Without that, China will keep on adding 1% to its CO2 output for 1%
growth in income (it's been faster than that lateley, but I think it will
fall to that over the next 10 years or so) for at least a decade.  At that
point, it should have twice the CO2 output of the US and EU combined.  We
can wish this won't happen, but history indicates it will.

Dan M. 


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Re: Scouted: U.S. to collapse in next two years?

2009-01-23 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: xponentrob xponent...@comcast.net
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2009 15:56:08 -0600
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: Scouted: U.S. to collapse in next two years?


- Original Message - 
From: dsummersmi...@comcast.net
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 12:00 PM
Subject: Re: Scouted: U.S. to collapse in next two years?


Since then, I've been seeing promises of competative electric cars.  When
gas prices were at $4.50/gallon, the premium for hybrids was within $1000
of being a wash.  But, now that prices are back close to $1.50 (around
here
at leastbut when we were up near $4.50, I'd guess you were higher too)
hybrid sales are falling like a rock.

Aren't overall vehicle sales been falling like a rock?
SUV/Truck sales have been getting a larger share of the pie of late, but
as 
I understand it all sales are down and this is why *all* automakers are 
having troubles.

But, hybrid sales are falling much faster.  The latest comparison I got was
through November, and (according to the eia), gas prices fell 20% from
November to December.

From 

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/04/r-l-polk-co-ana.html

quote
Sales of the market-leading Prius were down 48.3% to 8,660—its lowest sales
month since January 2007. Camry Hybrid sales were off 57.5%, down to 2,174
units. That accounted for 8.6% of all Camry sales. Total Camry sales for
the month were down 28.8%. Sales of the Highlander Hybrid were down 64.8%
to 907 units, representing 11.5% of all Highlander models sold. Total
Highlander sales were down 35.9% in the month.
end quote

So, as of November, they are dropping by about a factor of 2 more than the
same gas powered models.  Car sales are dropping, hybrid sales are dropping
much faster. And, while I don't have the details available, indications are
that the relative slide continues.  In a couple of months, we'll see if
there's a bottom.  If not, hybrid sales will drop to the point where the
sales become insignificant.


Dan M. 


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RE: Br!n: Congratulations! Today you get rid of... of... what'shisname?

2009-01-21 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net

Doug wrote:

Other stuff that struck me as profound:

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not 
just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring 
convictions. They understood that our power alone can not protect us, 
nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead they knew that out 
power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the 
justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities 
of humility and restraint.

A concept lost on the Bush administration.

I agree with that and with what David said earlier.  But, I was also
interested in that it was balanced by other lines in the speech:

 We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its
defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror
and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger
and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

And a line just before a line David quoted earlier:

 To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame
their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on
what you can build, not what you destroy. 


The first of these lines had Cheney rising from his wheelchair to applaud. 
One of the reasons that Obama has been elected, now enjoys 80% approval,
and has a real chance to lead through difficult times is that he appeals to
beliefs and convictions of many Americans in a manner that few Democrats
since 'Nam have been able to.  He has convinced those Americans that had
been nervous about the Democrats being soft that he has steel.  He called
out the various terrorist groups, such as Hammas, AQ, and Hezbollah, and
told them they can never beat the US.  But he did it in balance with lines
y'all have quoted.  That keeps his strong challenges as statements of
strength, not bravado.

Akin to this is his repeated call for personal responsibility.  Personally,
I think Jesse Jackson Sr. did him a favor (accidentally) when he commented
about castrating him when he heard him speak about the importance of black
fathers taking responsibility for their children when he spoke to a
predominantly black audience.  It’s the balance between personal and
community responsibility that appeals strongly to me.  As he says, he
rejects false either/or statements.  

I suspect that, as he actually governs, he will disappoint a lot of people
with his decisions.  That's the nature of real decision making; there will
be people opposed to any specific move.  But, my hope is that he will do
this by requiring everyone to give up a sacred cow for the common good. 
Indeed, I find it heartening that someone like Bill Bennett was musing that
he'll probably end up defending Obama to his listeners on more than one
occasion.  In the same stream of consciousness he said he's a complex man
and I wish him well.

Finally, I'd go back to the speech that got him national prominence for a
core belief that can be seen as foundational to his governing:

There is no Red America. There is no Blue America. There is the United
States of America.  I see Americans as hoping that he will truly govern
from the heart of the US.

Dan M.



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Re: biofuels and Li Batteries.

2009-01-14 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: hkhenson hkhen...@rogers.com
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2009 20:17:41 -0700
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: biofuels and Li Batteries.


At 01:00 PM 1/13/2009, Dan M  wrote:

I agree, but bioengineered fuels are not ethanol.  There are algae that
exist right now that produce aviation fuel with 1000x the efficiency of
ethanol.

I have a hard time with this statement.  Corn comes fairly close to 
3% sunlight to fixed carbon.  

Well, let's look at the official ethanol numbers.  If you assume only 5
hours of
the solar flux per day, there is about 3.6e7 MJ/acre available per acre of
land per year.   

Corn yields about 150 bushels/acre and we produce 2.7 gallons of ethanol
per gallon. With 89 MJ per gallon of ethanol, that gives about 3.6e4
MJ/acre for the ethanol.

That's a factor of 1000, and would require that the algae be perfect, which
I wouldn't expect.  But if you put in 2/3rds of the energy available in
ethanol in the process of making ethanol (which is not a bad estimate, it
use to be worse100% of the output energy was lost in process), then
the algae would have to be 33% efficient.  

Plus, I'm guessing that the lab conditions they worked  under were pretty
ideal, and that they assumed that the algea farms would be at lower
lattitudes than Iowa...so they upped the values from 5 hours to 6 or 7.  

The factor of 1000 is probably a streach.  When I wrote it, I wasn't
thinking of a big time production reaching it.  But, let's look at what
just a factor of 100 would do (which puts the algae at 3% efficiency with 5
hours.

We need all of the acres devoted to corn switched used for ethanol to get
about 12% of the moter fuel.  With a factor of 100, we're talking about 8%
of the corn acreage as algae ponds.  Since algae can grow in sea water,
they can be set up using ocean water, removing the demand on fresh water
resources for fuel.

I'm not saying we can get there en mass.  I'm saying, with bioengineering
costs going down, it is possible that we can get there, and that we have
gotten there under lab 

No, there are breakthroughs in many fields that are never mass marketed.
What I am saying is that we don't know until we know.  In my own career,
there have been many times, before I ran an experiment, I was pretty sure I
knew how something would work, but it didn't, and I had to scramble.  Take
for example, scaling up the recent Stanford breakthrough of increasing the
Li-I battery capacity 10x.

Is that possible from an energy standpoint?  

Yea, I know of no fundamental physical laws that prohibit 100x or 1000x the
energy densities. Now, there may be an upper limit to chemical storage, but
fundamental QED doesn't limit it. If I understand correctly, they have
increased the surface area by nanotech.  That sounds logical to me.  The
references given by Rob discuss this work, so I'll leave my contribution to
this bit.

Dan M. 


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Re: Scouted: U.S. to collapse in next two years?

2009-01-05 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Charlie Bell char...@culturelist.org
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2009 08:48:53 +1100
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: Scouted: U.S. to collapse in next two years?



On 06/01/2009, at 7:58 AM, Dan M wrote:

 With a few minor exceptions, the USA is running largely on momentum,
 which is finite.

 How does an economy grow on momentum?

It doesn't, indefinitely. And GDP is a poor measure, it really is.


Even GDP per capita?  Even after figuring in purchasing power parity?  Is
your arguement that per person income is not a good financial measure of
the wealth of a country?  

 It doesn't tackle the important stuff, like how many people are in  
poverty, in jail, educated, health and so on. 

I can understand why there would be a very complex arguement as to which
country is now preferable.  But, with the borderline exception of GB, most
developed countries have been very good at decreasing potential problems by
keeping their coutries homogeneous (e.g. keeping different ethnic groups
down to small minorities).  I know my Zambian daughter Neli, who studied a
semester in Europe, sees Europe as clearly more racist than the US. The US
is dealing with the aftereffects of slavery and Jim Crow, which has hurt in
very paradoxial ways.  For example, after civil rights, a large fraction of
blacks though only Oreos studied hard in school, men didn't need to take
care of their children, etc.  My African daughters have both commented on
this.  The good news is that Obama's election is starting to change some
minds.

The US is also dealing with a massive influx of poor uneducated Hispanics
across our porous border.  In a couple of generations, they become as
likely as the next American to be well educated, out of jail, etc, but in
the short term they add considerably to the poverty rate, crime rate, etc.
I know Hispanic gangs are very dangerous around here.  


And on all those  measures, the USA is not doing well compared to other
developed  
nations. 

Well, I see you didn't include unemployment, projected workers/retiree
ratios, productivity or any of the factors that favor the US.  Health is a
very complex subject, which I'd be glad to discuss (including the fact that
the US is paying for health advances that other developed countries then
piggy back on), as is poverty.  Again, we can have a fruitful discussion on
either topic, but the realities are very complex. 


That plus the astonishing debt burden left by Reagan/Bush 1  
and then Bush 2 and it's hard to see how the US can maintain its  
position long term.

The debt burden (as a percentage  for the US is actually lower now than in
'92.  After the stimulous package it will probably exceed that number, but
still be far lower than it was in '46.  It will be a problem, but not an
insurmountable one.

What I cannot figure out among all the people who think that the US is
about to fall from its perch and see a singular massive depression (e.g.
the US drops while every other country rises) is who's going to take over. 
Europe is getting old and will be seeing its population drop significantly
over the next 50 years, has fianancial institutions that are far more
leveraged than the US institutions as well as far less transparent. Why do
you think, after the the US had a financial crisis, that the Euro dropped
like a rock compared to the dollareven though the balance of trade
deficits of the US should have cause the opposite.  Japan is getting even
older, after sufferoing a lost decade when it was projected to overtake the
US for ecconomic dominence.  China has far more at risk than the US,
besides being far poorer.  

I realize that there is a great desire in the world to see the US get its
comeuppance.  But, while I beleived that Japan might overtake the US back
in the 80s, I don't see any candidate now.  What might be possible, if the
US growth slows down, is a non-polar worldwhich will be far more
dangerous than anything we've seen since October, '62.

Dan M.




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Re: Israel to collapse in 25 years?

2009-01-03 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Charlie Bell char...@culturelist.org
Date: Sun, 4 Jan 2009 12:59:20 +1100
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: Israel to collapse in 25 years?



On 04/01/2009, at 10:54 AM, Dan M wrote:
 Plus, demographics favor the Palestinians in the long run.  Further,  
 since
 Arabs control oil, there is a great desire to please Arabs by many  
 world
 powers (the UN tacit approval of the genocide in the Sudan is a good  
 example
 of this),

No it's no - the UN and African Union have peace-keeping operations in  
Darfur. They're underfunded and undereffective, but that's not tacit  
approval.

Oh, that's not what I meant.  I was thinking about things the UN voting the
Sudan on the Human Rights commission _while the genocide was going on_, the
UN publically chiding the United States for calling the genocide by it's
proper name and other actions that give a wink and a nod to the actions of
Sudan. It's akin to what happened with Serbicidia, where the Russians
allowed ineffective peacekeepers, but stopped any meaningful action.  

Dan M. 

Dan M.


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RE: Scouted: U.S. to collapse in next two years?

2009-01-02 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Nick Arnett narn...@mccmedia.com
Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2009 14:17:07 -0800
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Scouted: U.S. to collapse in next two years?


From the Wall Street Journal:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123051100709638419.html

As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.
In Moscow, Igor Panarin's Forecasts Are All the Rage; America 
'Disintegrates' in 2010 

I read this a few weeks ago and got a good chuckle out of it.  It shows
than Americans aren't the only ones who can be clueless about how things
work in other countries. :-)

Dan M. 




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Re: Incoming!

2008-12-26 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Bruce Bostwick lihan161...@sbcglobal.net
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2008 17:30:53 -0600
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: Incoming!



Unless the fluid flow is completely laminar (which is extremely rare  
in nature), there's turbulence involved, which is naturally chaotic.   
Which is why I mentioned that that was a less informative answer than  
it might appear.  (i.e. it was a joke .. :)

OK, fair enoughbut quantum chaos comes about so quickly with virtually
anything (you weren't here but I did a thought experiment that showed that
h-bar introduces chaos in a billard ball though experiment in only 1-1.2
seconds). So, I guess I just don't think about that, because it's true of
everything and not useful.

 OK, in what sense are you talking about fractals here.  In  
 particular, why shouldn't standard wave theory work?

 Dan M.



If it were wave action, also, I'd expect some reverse flow in the  
cycle at least right after the front arrived.  From the description,  
it sounded more like the wind speed varied between zero and maximum in  
one direction .. (to OP) right?


I model phenomenon for a living.  Most of it is complex enough so that it
is impossible to sit down and calculate it from first principles.  But, one
can do phenomenology.

When I was saying wave action, it was because that the first order fit to
what Nick described was A(1+sin(wt)).  Clearly there is a constant as well
as sin term for the wind to go from zero to high to zero.

Since Doug was talking about hiking in the Sierra, I immediately thought of
many possible combinations that could results in this phenomenon (just
think of all the valleys and canyons and natural resonences).  But, in the
absense of more data, I tend to think of the simplest phenomenology I can.

Plus, chaos and fractal are popular physics buzz words.  Most of the time,
they have been misused.  In particular, I don't understand how fractional
dimensions are particularly useful in a modeling a pehomenon in which the
information given matches A(1+sin(wt).  I realize now that the reference to
chaos was a joke, but I still don't understand what brought non-integer
dimenisons to mind.  

Dan M. 


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Re: Incoming!

2008-12-23 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net




  Yesterday was the Summer solstice here in the South Pacific and the day
  before was cold - only 6 degrees celsius.
 
  Global warming harumph.


The fact that it is colder in some places than normal may be a sign of
global warming.  I know that some predictions say that global warming will
make it colder and wetter here in our part of California because more cold
air will be sucked off the Pacific by rising air in a hotter Central
Valley.

Global warming will lead to less stable weather and more extremes.  
Or already is.


From what I understand of the models, that's not quite the consensus. 
Global warming is a long-term trend, not a year by year trend.  In
addition, we know that the weather had other variables, like the hurricane
cycle (30s-40s many hurricanes, 70s-80s few, '00s many, or the La Nina/El
Nino variation.

Overall, this last year has been the coolest in the decade.  This doesn't
mean there is more variation than usual. For example, we've not had another
dust bowl of the '30s.

To first order, one should expect a general warming, and pattern changes
with global warming.  Most models predict more rain overall.  The patterns
of drought may not be more vicious, we're just more globally connected now.
The data on hurricanes, in particular, is hard to pinpoint, because we can
not name a tropical storm that just reaches 40 mph in the mid-Atlantic, or
catch a hurricane at its peak of 155 to make it a cat 5, even though it
ramped up and down fast, and hit land as only a cat 2.

So, if one applies a fairly heavy, say 15 year filter, to the data, one
sees global warming.  If one looks for general regional trends, they are
probably still mostly in the noise, but may energe later (in fact I'd be
surprised if none emerged later).

Dan M. 


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Re: Incoming!

2008-12-23 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net



I'm sure there's chaos involved in that somehow.  :)  

Why?  It sounds like a pretty clear pattern to me, not chaos.


My guess is that if you were able to sample the wind speed at that  
point, you'd see something rather fractal, probably a 1/f  
distribution.  The periodicity probably is a long-wavelength  
resonance, though, sort of like seiches in lakes ..


OK, in what sense are you talking about fractals here.  In particular, why
shouldn't standard wave theory work?

Dan M. 


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Re: Admin: Moving the list

2008-12-19 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Nick Arnett narn...@mccmedia.com
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 2008 12:59:01 -0800
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Re: Admin: Moving the list



I'm happy with Bluehost (except for the lack of back-end access to Mailman
archives)... the issue is more to do with which technology to use for
archiving.  They offer several kinds of wikis... I was tempted by MoinMoin
because it is Python-based.

Which allows you to run the list while showing your computer the full Monty?

Dan M. 


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RE: Russia (Was What is wealth?)

2008-12-17 Thread dsummersmi...@comcast.net


Original Message:
-
From: Wayne Eddy we...@bigpond.net.au
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2008 06:59:18 +1000
To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
Subject: Russia  (Was What is wealth?)



- Original Message - 
From: Dan M dsummersmi...@comcast.net
To: 'Killer Bs (David Brin et al) Discussion' brin-l@mccmedia.com
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 1:34 AM
Subject: RE: What is wealth?

I didn't see a lot of 
drunks wandering the streets, but there were a few indications that 
alcoholism could be a bit of a problem.

Well, on average they drink a lot.  Averaging over the whole population, we
have from 

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article1647475.ece


A report by Gennadi Onishenko, head of the consumer protection agency,
found that Russians drink 15 litres (26 pints) of pure alcohol per year




I was last in Russia was in 2004 and the ecconomy seemed to have picked up
a 
lot since when I was first there in 2000, whcih is why I question your 
assertion that Russia was on the slide.  The majority of Russians I've met 
are very well educated and I definitely got the impression that Russia was 
recovering nicely from the admittedly rather large hiccup caused by the
fall 
of the Soviet Union.

Another few years and oil prices will be higher than ever surely?

The last time this happened, it took 20 years until the next oil boom. 
Again, look at the countries where the ecconomy is all oil.  Those with
decent sized populations (Venezuala, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria) have not seen the
immense foreign currency generated by this wealth trickle down to the
average person.  

The recovery was caused by two things: Putin controlling the mob so
businessmen knew who to bribe, and the rise in fuel costs.  But, the last 4
years, as he consolidated his power, he also concentrated the wealthI
don't think anyone would argue that Russia is not a more autocratic country
than it was even 4 years ago.  These types of countries rarely have well
off citizens.



I never saw any indications of massive child neglect - quite the opposite.

OK, then the quesiton becomes why do NGOs report it as massive, and even
the government report it as quite large. 




Lets hope the US doesn't attack any else for a while then.  Surely with 
George Bush out it becomes a bit less likely? :-)

It depends on the security needs of the US.  Obama was clear that he would
raise the troop levels in Afganistan.  Gates seems to have his head on
straight, arguing for soft forces to follow troops in because the US
otherwise lost the ground it won as soon as the troops left.

I, among many others, argued against going into Iraq, because I thought we
would bumble it.although even I didn't guess the magnitude of the
incompetence of those involved.  But, with Gates and Petreus, we have had
very competent leadership, and things are far better now than they were in
'06, or '02 in Iraq.  Whether they will stay that way after we leave is a
good question the answer to which no-one knows, but right now there are far
fewer violent deaths than there were 7 years ago.



I wonder if Afganistan will have that effect on anyone else?

Very unlikely.  If you look at 'Nam for the US and Afganistan for the USSR,
both were quagmires, but the US managed to grow its GDP 30% in the '70s and
the USSR GDP fell like a rock in the '80s.

Right now, the US is spending a fraction of the GDP it spent on arms in the
'60s, our biggest growth years.



I would have thought that a low birth rate is very very good evidence of 
being part of the first world.

It does have that in common with the first world.  But, the life expectancy
of both men and women in every age catagory is less than it was 40 years
ago.

http://www.hoover.org/publications/policyreview/3439671.html

Now, I know the Hoover institute is quite conservative, but from what I've
heard from knowledgeable sources in the field, the basic demographics are
not disputed  


Things can turn around quickly - look at China - 

Which took 25 years to turn around, but go ahead.

perhaps global warming is 
just what Russia needs to become a major world power again?


With no people?  It's not just that the birth rate is low, it's that the
death rate is higher than 40 years ago.  Germany has a lower birth rate,
and it's birth and death rate are close to even.  Russia's death rate is
about 50% higher than it's birth rate.

For a number of reasons, the average, say, 40 year old man has a high hill
to climb before he can achieve his father's life expectancy.  Something is
wrong there.  The life expectency for a Russian male is 3 years less than
for a male from Bangladesh.  Something is terribly wrong there.


Dan M. 


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