Quotulatiousness

November 30, 2017

“[W]henever I visit a newsroom these days, I instinctively feel unhealthy, like a 19th-century Lake Poet visiting an especially polluted part of London”

Filed under: Business, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Colby Cosh goes well out of his way to rub salt in the wounds of daily commuters, while basking in the glories of working from home:

When Statistics Canada puts its big brains to work on measuring the time devoted to commuting, and the various ways in which people drag their butts to work, I always read the results with the particular interest-fascination-horror of a permanent non-commuter. I am well into my second decade of working full-time, pretty much exclusively, from home. I’m dragged out of the house very occasionally for assignments and broadcast appearances, but most of what I do for a living happens a few feet from my bed.

None of it, I should specify, actually happens in bed (and relatively little of it involves actual writing). As most people who have to physically travel to a job seem to suspect, working remotely gives you a scary, even nauseating freedom to customize your working arrangements. I suppose most of us professional shut-ins find that we have to establish arbitrary rules and mini-disciplines to prevent our lives from becoming totally unstructured and unhealthy. “Bed is for sleep” is one of mine.

All of my conscious writing and research is done strictly at a desk, whether or not I happen to be wearing pants. With that said, as I get older, I do find sleep to be a more important component of my overall work process. Naps can be magical, and the ability to get around a writing difficulty by means of one is something I would immediately miss if I became a miserable corporate prisoner/drone again.

This kind of consideration deepens the psychic divide between commuters and remote workers: we have trouble understanding one another’s worlds even when we have switched between them. Commuters shudder at the thought of an amorphous life with less social contact and minimal formal barriers between work and non-work. Indeed, I think working at home does make one a little dottier (note: this is not necessarily a practical disadvantage for a newspaper columnist). I suspect it may also discourage groupthink. It definitely cuts down on pointless meetings; and whenever I visit a newsroom these days, I instinctively feel unhealthy, like a 19th-century Lake Poet visiting an especially polluted part of London.

I’ve spent more of my time working from home over the last decade than sitting in the office (and therefore also needing to drag my carcass to and from said office), and I really do understand his viewpoint. It’s one of the things I anticipate with no joy at all, as any new job I’m likely to land will probably require a daily commute. On a good day, it’s about an hour’s drive to downtown Toronto, but there aren’t enough good travel days and taking public transit literally doubles that time. Spending four hours per day to get to work and back feels very wasteful, even when I can get in some reading on the way.

JourneyQuest S03E03 – “The Bardest”

Filed under: Gaming, Humour, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Zombie Orpheus Entertainment
Published on 28 Nov 2017

Watch the complete, uncut season on Amazon Prime or ZOE Premium (http://www.zombieorpheus.com) and be sure to follow us on Facebook for the latest updates (http://www.facebook.com/zombieorpheus)

Bitcoin

Filed under: Economics, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Charles Stross explains why he’s not a fan of Bitcoin (and I do agree with him that the hard limit to the total number of Bitcoins sounded like a bad idea to me the first time I ever heard of them):

So: me and bitcoin, you already knew I disliked it, right?

(Let’s discriminate between Blockchain and Bitcoin for a moment. Blockchain: a cryptographically secured distributed database, useful for numerous purposes. Bitcoin: a particularly pernicious cryptocurrency implemented using blockchain.) What makes Bitcoin (hereafter BTC) pernicious in the first instance is the mining process, in combination with the hard upper limit on the number of BTC: it becomes increasingly computationally expensive over time. Per this article, Bitcoin mining is now consuming 30.23 TWh of electricity per year, or rather more electricity than Ireland; it’s outrageously more energy-intensive than the Visa or Mastercard networks, all in the name of delivering a decentralized currency rather than one with individual choke-points. (Here’s a semi-log plot of relative mining difficulty over time.)

Bitcoin relative mining difficulty chart with logarithmic vertical scale. Relative difficulty defined as 1 at 9 January 2009. Higher number means higher difficulty. Horizontal range is from 9 January 2009 to 8 November 2014.
Source: Wikipedia.

Credit card and banking settlement is vulnerable to government pressure, so it’s no surprise that BTC is a libertarian shibboleth. (Per a demographic survey of BTC users compiled by a UCL researcher and no longer on the web, the typical BTC user in 2013 was a 32 year old male libertarian.)

Times change, and so, I think, do the people behind the ongoing BTC commodity bubble. (Which is still inflating because around 30% of BTC remain to be mined, so conditions of artificial scarcity and a commodity bubble coincide). Last night I tweeted an intemperate opinion—that’s about all twitter is good for, plus the odd bon mot and cat jpeg—that we need to ban Bitcoin because it’s fucking our carbon emissions. It’s up to 0.12% of global energy consumption and rising rapidly: the implication is that it has the potential to outstrip more useful and productive computational uses of energy (like, oh, kitten jpegs) and to rival other major power-hogging industries without providing anything we actually need. And boy did I get some interesting random replies!

History of the Gun – Part 2: The Matchlock

Filed under: History, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

RugerFirearms
Published on 10 Dec 2009

The “History of the Gun” online video series produced by Ruger is a unique look at the progression of firearms technology throughout the years, hosted by Senior Editor of Guns & Ammo Garry James. Part 2 examines the Matchlock.

QotD: Nuclear winter

Filed under: Environment, Media, Politics, Quotations, Science — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

In 1975, the National Academy of Sciences reported on “Long-Term Worldwide Effects of Multiple Nuclear Weapons Detonations” but the report estimated the effect of dust from nuclear blasts to be relatively minor. In 1979, the Office of Technology Assessment issued a report on “The Effects of Nuclear War” and stated that nuclear war could perhaps produce irreversible adverse consequences on the environment. However, because the scientific processes involved were poorly understood, the report stated it was not possible to estimate the probable magnitude of such damage.

Three years later, in 1982, the Swedish Academy of Sciences commissioned a report entitled “The Atmosphere after a Nuclear War: Twilight at Noon,” which attempted to quantify the effect of smoke from burning forests and cities. The authors speculated that there would be so much smoke that a large cloud over the northern hemisphere would reduce incoming sunlight below the level required for photosynthesis, and that this would last for weeks or even longer.

The following year, five scientists including Richard Turco and Carl Sagan published a paper in Science called “Nuclear Winter: Global Consequences of Multiple Nuclear Explosions.” This was the so-called TTAPS report, which attempted to quantify more rigorously the atmospheric effects, with the added credibility to be gained from an actual computer model of climate. At the heart of the TTAPS undertaking was another equation, never specifically expressed, but one that could be paraphrased as follows:

Ds = Wn Ws Wh Tf Tb Pt Pr Pe etc

(The amount of tropospheric dust = # warheads × size warheads × warhead detonation height × flammability of targets × Target burn duration × Particles entering the Troposphere × Particle reflectivity × Particle endurance, and so on.)

The similarity to the Drake equation is striking. As with the Drake equation, none of the variables can be determined. None at all. The TTAPS study addressed this problem in part by mapping out different wartime scenarios and assigning numbers to some of the variables, but even so, the remaining variables were — and are — simply unknowable. Nobody knows how much smoke will be generated when cities burn, creating particles of what kind, and for how long. No one knows the effect of local weather conditions on the amount of particles that will be injected into the troposphere. No one knows how long the particles will remain in the troposphere. And so on.

And remember, this is only four years after the OTA study concluded that the underlying scientific processes were so poorly known that no estimates could be reliably made. Nevertheless, the TTAPS study not only made those estimates, but concluded they were catastrophic.

According to Sagan and his coworkers, even a limited 5,000 megaton nuclear exchange would cause a global temperature drop of more than 35 degrees Centigrade, and this change would last for three months. The greatest volcanic eruptions that we know of changed world temperatures somewhere between 0.5 and 2 degrees Centigrade. Ice ages changed global temperatures by 10 degrees. Here we have an estimated change three times greater than any ice age. One might expect it to be the subject of some dispute.

But Sagan and his coworkers were prepared, for nuclear winter was from the outset the subject of a well-orchestrated media campaign. The first announcement of nuclear winter appeared in an article by Sagan in the Sunday supplement, Parade. The very next day, a highly-publicized, high-profile conference on the long-term consequences of nuclear war was held in Washington, chaired by Carl Sagan and Paul Ehrlich, the most famous and media-savvy scientists of their generation. Sagan appeared on the Johnny Carson show 40 times. Ehrlich was on 25 times. Following the conference, there were press conferences, meetings with congressmen, and so on. The formal papers in Science came months later.

This is not the way science is done, it is the way products are sold.

Michael Crichton, “Aliens Cause Global Warming”: the Caltech Michelin Lecture, 2003-01-17.

November 29, 2017

Something rotten at the Royal Military College of Canada

Filed under: Cancon, Education, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Ted Campbell discusses the concerns about the Royal Military College (RMC) in the latest Auditor General’s report:

Aerial view of the main RMC campus in Kingston, Ontario.
Photo from Ted Campbell’s Point of View

As you can well imagine, despite the almost zero interest in government and the media ~ reflecting the fact that taxpayers neither know much nor care even a tiny bit about the military, unless there’s a scandal with sexual overtones ~ this is a hot topic amongst many of my friends. Reactions range from:

  • Hey, RMC is doing just fine, it is meeting its assigned mission ~ “The mission of the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) is to produce officers with the mental, physical and linguistic capabilities and the ethical foundation required to lead with distinction in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)” ~ and who cares if it costs a bit more than, say, getting a tainted BA from Laurier?
  • … through to …

  • Burn. It. To. The. Ground.

Most of my military friends and acquaintances agree, broadly, with the Auditor General:

  • The Royal Military College is a pretty good university that produces well educated men and women, most of whom are, perhaps, somewhat less than adequately prepared for further military training; but
  • The Royal Military College is notably weaker than in years (decades) past and weaker than it should be, today, at producing young men and women who are physically fit, even tough, who have high ethical standards and who display an acceptable level of leadership skill and ability.

So, why, one might ask, is The Royal Military College an academically fine college but not so good at the military stuff?

Friends and acquaintances who are reasonable closely connected to RMC (current and former academic and military staff and/or officers in the parts of the HQ that have responsibility for RMC) suggest that the academic staff (currently led by the College Principal, Dr. H.J. (Harry) Kowal, CD, rmc, BEng, MSAe, MA(SS), MDS, PhD, PEng, BGen (Ret’d)) has a better focus on what it is doing and why it is doing it than does the military staff (currently led by the Commandant, Brigadier General Sébastien Bouchard, an Army officer from one of the engineering branches). Should BrigadierGeneral Bouchard be fired and replaced with someone better? No, the problem is not his leadership ability, it is that Dr. Kowal’s mission is clearer, simpler and easier to accomplish than is General Bouchard’s. In theory the reverse ought to be true, but …

Most of my friends and acquaintances who are “in the know” agree that RMC’s biggest problem is that the military, proper, has far, far too little say in who gets in and once in students are not allowed to fail out for fitness (athletic), ethical or leadership deficiencies.

A while ago a friend related a story (it’s actually three or four stories, all put together) about one of the courses at the College ~ it was about a mid-term exam: one student was caught cheating, one simply failed to even write the exam and a third had to be given a second chance because (s)he had a learning disability. “Wait!” I exclaimed, “How in hell did someone with a learning disability get into RMC in the first place? How in hell will someone with a learning disability ever stand watch on the bridge of a ship, command a troop of tanks in battle or fly an airplane?” “Not to worry,” my friend said, “(s)he will never get that far … but (s)he will graduate.” He went on to explain that no one in “official Ottawa” is wiling to enforce standards any more. No one believes that a person with a learning disability severe enough to require special attention like an exam re-write can ever do any useful job as an officer in the CF, but no one has the courage to say, up front, “sorry, Margaret or Mike, but you are not qualified to study at RMC because we, the military, have our own, valid, operationally required standards and you don’t meet them.” In the 21st century we all know that every snowflake is special and every special snowflake will go to some human rights tribunal if the military ties to enforce reasonable, legitimate standards, and the admirals and generals and bureaucrats and politicians are far more afraid of a human rights story in the media than they are of North Korean missiles.

“But,” I said, “what about the one who cheated and the one who just ditched the exam?” They, I suggested, must, surely, have been given the old “heave-ho.” “Nope,” my friend answered, “the exam was just declared optional ~ it will count as, say, 15% of the final course mark so the young person who ditched it will still, most likely, graduate and the cadet who cheated was given a bureaucratic rap on the knuckles because no one in the military chain had the balls to fail him/her.” Failing someone, he said, is very, very difficult because even the military has adapted to a social system in which everyone must pass everything … only, he said, in a few (hard science and engineering) departments is there some doubt about everyone passing everything.

Frankenstein: Paradise Lost – Extra Sci Fi – #5

Filed under: Books, History, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Extra Credits
Published on 28 Nov 2017

Paradise Lost told the story of Satan, a creation who rejected his creator just like Frankenstein’s monster did. But even Satan had a loving creator, beauty, and friends. The monster had nothing, and his life in Mary Shelley’s eyes was not a horror story, but a tragedy.

Self-driving cars

Filed under: Liberty, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Michael Walsh isn’t a fan of self-driving cars, no sirree:

A “self-driving” car is an oxymoron, in the same way that “paying for a tax cut” is. Someone or something is going to be driving that car, and the whole point here is that it ain’t going to be you, brother.

For while you may at first think you are directing the destination of the vehicle, the fact is you’re a passenger in a computer-controlled mobile living-room whose every move is dictated by Big Brother, whether directly or remotely. It’s bad enough now, when the computers in your car can rat you out to highway checkpoints, and your Bluetooth-connected cell phone broadcasts your whereabouts to every law enforcement officer in the county.

But once the “self-driving” car juts its snout into the marketplace, and tries to drive out the you-driving cars, whom do you think is going to be calling the shots? In quick succession, say hello to the road-mileage tax and ever more vehicles on the roads, given that no one will have to qualify for a vision-tested or skills-tested drivers’ licenses anymore.

Be also prepared for restrictions on where and when you can be chauffeured around in robot-propelled comfort; which kinds of gasoline you may purchase, and when; and with whom you may someday be forced to share your vehicle as the cars are pre-programmed at the factory to respond to commands from elsewhere, including checking IDs. We used to want God to be our co-pilot; instead, we’re going to get Google.

So buy that car you’ve been fancying — you know, the one with a functioning steering wheel, accelerator, and brakes; the one that goes where you want it to, more or less — while you still can, because an unholy alliance of national-security TSA types, social justice warriors, and tech nerds are bound and determined to take it away from you. We can’t have folks mucking about inside of Fortress America, free to go when and where they please, without so much as a by-your-leave. From King of the Road to a sack of spuds, suitable for carting, in just a few postwar generations: welcome to the world of the Emasculated American Male.

H/T to Small Dead Animals for the link.

History of the Gun – Part 1: The Hand Cannon

Filed under: History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

RugerFirearms
Published on 10 Dec 2009

The “History of the Gun” online video series produced by Ruger is a unique look at the progression of firearms technology throughout the years, hosted by Senior Editor of Guns & Ammo Garry James. Part 1 examines the Hand Cannon.

QotD: Exports are costs, not benefits

Filed under: Economics, Quotations — Tags: — Nicholas @ 01:00

You correctly point out that Pres. Trump’s ignorance of trade leads to policies that reduce American exports (“Trump’s Pacific Trade Tear,” Nov. 11). But an even deeper problem with such policies is that they reduce American imports. This truth cannot be too often repeated: exports are costs incurred in order to receive benefits called “imports.”

If Trump were correct that exports are benefits and imports are costs, we Americans could become fabulously wealthy simply by loading all of our production onto ships and then sinking the ships in mid-ocean. Getting nothing from us, foreigners will send nothing to us. In fact, of course, as even a six-year-old child would recognize, such a trade policy would ensure our impoverishment.

Yet the trade policy championed by Trump differs from the sink-all-exports-in-mid-ocean policy only in degree and detail and not in kind. Trump is using his much-ballyhooed bargaining skills to arrange for us Americans to pay more to foreigners and to get less in return. The American president, in other words, is bargaining hard to make foreigners artificially richer by making Americans artificially poorer.

Don Boudreaux, “With Apologies to Bastiat”, Café Hayek, 2017-11-11.

November 28, 2017

Invasions, Naval Battles and German Raiders – WW1 in the Pacific I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Australia, Germany, History, Military, Pacific — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The Great War
Published on 27 Nov 2017

New Zealand: A Society At War: http://amzn.to/2A7Ojz0

One of the theatres of war that’s often overlooked, the Pacific saw some of the earliest military actions of the Great War. On top of this, there were many naval engagements in this particular ocean, including some famous German merchant raiders. We cover all this and more in today’s special episode.

The Canadian Army’s Leopard tanks

Filed under: Cancon, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

In a discussion on Facebook the other day, I’d mistakenly stated that the Canadian Army had initially sent the “new” Leopard 2 tanks leased from Germany (20 refurbished Leopard 2A6Ms) to Afghanistan to support the Kandahar mission. In fact, as a lengthy article linked by John Donovan pointed out, our poor zipperheads had been operating non-air-conditioned Leopard 1 tanks until the government made arrangements with some of our NATO allies to get modern MBTs into the combat zone. I suspect the reason for my confusion was that the old Leopard 1 tanks were designated as “C2” by the army and I’d confused that with the more general “Leopard 2” name for the modern tank. This article in Defence Industry Daily sets out the details:

Leopard 2A6M in Afghanistan

A number of options for renewing Canada’s tank capability were considered, ranging from refurbishment, to surplus, to new. Delivery time was of the essence, and DND’s examination determined that the cost of any new vehicles involved paying up to 3 times as much as buying the same basic tank models on the surplus heavy tank market. New medium tank options like the 32-tonne CV90-120 light tank also offered full tracked mobility and similar firepower at less cost, but Canada had learned that heavier weight was often a tactical plus in theater, and decided that they needed vehicles sooner rather than later.

Accordingly, the Canadian government approached 6 allied nations regarding surplus main battle tank sales, and received proposals from 3 of them. It then went ahead and made 2 purchases, plus another 2 follow-on buys.

Their tank choice is a modern mainstay for many countries. Thanks in part to the great DeutschePanzerSchlussverkauf (German Panzer fire sale), the Leopard 2 and its variants external link have now been bought by Germany, Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, and Turkey.

Canada’s 1st step was a lease, in order to get modern, air-conditioned tanks to the front lines immediately. Germany won that order, and 20 German Leopard 2A6M mine-protected tanks were delivered by the summer of 2007 to replace existing Leopard 1A5/C2 tanks in Afghanistan. The new tanks’ electric turret systems produce less heat than the C2s did, and air conditioning was added to the new German tanks in theater. This was a relief to Canadian tank crews, who had needed protective suites in the 140F/ 60C interiors of their Leopard 1A5 tanks.

The 2A6M is the most modern serving Leopard variant, though KMW had proposed a “Leopard 2 Peace Support Operations” variant with improved protection, and integrated combat engineering capabilities. By the time modifications were finished, the Leopard 2A6 CAN turned out to fall somewhere between the conventional 2A6M and the PSO. Canada actually ended up keeping the leased and modified German tanks, and sending 20 Leopard 2A6Ms from its follow-on purchases back to Germany.

The follow-on purchases of 127 tanks were won by 3 countries. The biggest order for 100 tanks went to the Dutch, who are serving under NATO ISAF beside Canadian forces in southern Afghanistan. Training for 5 years and initial spares will also be provided. Cooperation between these nations is not new. Dutch PzH-2000 mobile howitzers have already proven very helpful during Operation Medusa external link, and so had their CH-47 Chinook medium-heavy helicopters – some of which were bought as surplus from the Canadians in the 1980s. The cycle continues. And so it goes.

In the aftermath of their sales to Norway, Denmark, and now Canada, The Dutch were left with 110 Leopard 2A6-NL tanks in their arsenal. Other sales dropped that total further, and on On April 8/11, the Dutch Ministry of Defense announced that the last tank unit was to be dissolved and all remaining Leopard tanks sold.

The additional Leopard 2 buys totaled 27 tanks/ hulls. First, another 15 Leopard 2A4s were bought from Germany, to be used for spare parts. This hadn’t been contemplated in the initial plan, but it was necessary. The initial set of 20 leased German Leopard 2A6Ms were experiencing readiness problems, as tanks were cannibalized in order to keep others running. A 2010 buy from Switzerland added 12 stripped Pz 87s (Leopard 2A4 variants) for conversion to specialty vehicles, under Canada’s Force Mobility Enhancement (FME) program.

The earlier Leopard 1 tanks had been purchased in the late 1970s (very much against the preferences of the government of the day) to replace the late 1940s vintage Centurion tanks the Canadian Army had been operating:

Canadian Leopard 1A3 (Leopard C1) at the Bovington Tank Museum.
Photo by Chris Parfeniuk, via Flickr.

When 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group was moved from Westphalia to Lahr on the Rhine frontier with France, some policy-makers apparently sought to do away with Canada’s tanks entirely.

For some years, the brigade continued to use their Centurion tanks, an excellent tank in its day but one that could not be used on long road moves. In 1975, the Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, visited Germany to ask the Chancellor for his support for getting Canada special trade status with the European Common Market. He was told to come back to discuss the matter once Canada had replaced its antiquated tanks.

The contract for the Leopard tank acquisition followed quickly. Consideration had been given to totally rebuilding the Centurions with new power pack as the Israeli army has done with their Centurions. Before the order could be delivered Canada negotiated a deal with the German Government to lease 35 Leopard 1A2’s to train their crews on the new tanks.

The upgrade from the initial Leopard C1 to the C2 model began in 1996:

Late in 1996 it was announced that the Canadian Forces were to carry out a major update on their fleet of Leopard C1 tanks (The C1 was the equivalent of the Leopard 1A3), which involved the replacement of the existing turret with the complete turret of the German Leopard 1A5. The Leopard 1A5 turret features the STN ATLAS Elektronik EMES-18 computerized fire-control system which incorporates a Carl Zeiss thermal imager.

The 105mm L7 rifled guns in the Leopard 1A5 turrets were not retained but were replaced with Canadian Leopard C1 original 105mm guns, the L7A1. The ballistic computers were reprogrammed to match 105 mm Canadian ammunition.

The turret rebuild was carried out in Germany and commenced in June 1997 with the first turret being shipped to Canada in December 1997. GLS refurbished the turret, removed the 105 mm gun, modified the turret where required, including the installation of the new radios ordered under the Tactical Command, Control and Communications System project.

The turrets were shipped to Canada where a subcontractor installed the 105 mm L7A1 barrel and mounted the turret on the existing chassis for final delivery to the Canadian Forces. It was expected that about six turrets a month would be upgraded with each turret taking six months to upgrade. The program was completed by late 2001.

Evergreen headline – “FCC bureaucrats don’t know what they’re talking about”

Filed under: Government, Liberty, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Nick Gillespie on the heightening panic over the FCC’s reversal of the controversial Net Neutrality rules:

Current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai memorably told Reason that “net neutrality” rules were “a solution that won’t work to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

Yet in 2015, despite a blessed lack of throttling of specific traffic streams, blocking of websites, and other feared behavior by internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile carriers, the FCC issued net neutrality rules that gave the federal government the right to punish business practices under Title II regulations designed for the old state-enabled Bell telephone monopoly.

Now that Pai, who became chairman earlier this year, has announced an FCC vote to repeal the Obama-era regulations, he is being pilloried by progressives, liberals, Democrats, and web giants ranging from Google to Netflix to Amazon to Facebook, often in the name of protecting an “open internet” that would let little companies and startups flourish like in the good old days before Google, Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook dominated everything. Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which back in 2009 called FCC attempts to claim jurisdiction over the internet a “Trojan Horse” for government control, is squarely against the repeal.

[…]

Yet the panic over the repeal of net neutrality is misguided for any number of reasons.

First and foremost, the repeal simply returns the internet back to pre-2015 rules where there were absolutely no systematic issues related to throttling and blocking of sites (and no, ISPs weren’t to blame for Netflix quality issues in 2013). As Pai stressed in an exclusive interview with Reason last week, one major impact of net neutrality regs was a historic decline in investment in internet infrastructure, which would ultimately make things worse for all users. Why bother building out more capacity if there’s a strong likelihood that the government will effectively nationalize your pipes? Despite fears, the fact is that in the run-up to government regulation, both the average speed and number of internet connections (especially mobile) continued to climb and the percentage of Americans without “advanced telecommunications capability” dropped from 20 percent to 10 percent between 2012 and 2014, according to the FCC (see table 7 in full report). Nobody likes paying for the internet or for cell service, but the fact is that services have been getting better and options have been growing for most people.

Second, as Reason contributor Thomas W. Hazlett, a former chief economist for the FCC, writes in The New York Daily News, even FCC bureaucrats don’t know what they’re talking about.

Hazlett notes that in a recent debate former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who implemented the 2015 net neutrality rules after explicit lobbying by President Obama, said the rise of AOL to dominance during the late 1990s proved the need for the sort of government regulation he imposed. But “AOL’s foray only became possible when regulators in the 1980s peeled back ‘Title II’ mandates, the very regulations that Wheeler’s FCC imposed on broadband providers in 2015,” writes Hazlett. “AOL’s experiment started small and grew huge, discovering progressively better ways to serve consumers. Wheeler’s chosen example of innovation demonstrates how dangerous it is to impose one particular platform, freezing business models in place.”

A Tax on the Poor – The Lotto and the Surprisingly Common Sad Aftermath of Winning

Filed under: Randomness — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Today I Found Out
Published on 1 Jun 2017

In this video:

It’s been called a voluntary tax on the poor and under-educated, with people spending a whopping $60 billion a year in the United States alone on lottery tickets, most of which are purchased by low income individuals. (All total, about 20% of Americans play the lotto). Despite the high number of lotto tickets purchased annually, when playing the lottery (in all its forms), you’ll win an average of just 53 cents for every $1 you spend, making it one of the lowest return rates of any form of commercial gambling, and thus extremely profitable for the various government bodies who run the lotteries.

Want the text version?: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2012/12/on-average-people-who-earn-less-than-13000-a-year-in-the-u-s-spend-5-of-their-gross-earnings-on-lottery-tickets/

QotD: Women and “providers”

Filed under: Health, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

…Women evolved to feel compelled to seek men who are “providers.”

This hasn’t changed, not even for powerful women making a lot of money. Research by evolutionary psychologist David Buss and others has shown that even when women are high-flying big earners, they seem to want men who are higher-flying bigger earners.

This is even true of women who consider themselves feminists. Another evolutionary psychologist, Bruce J. Ellis, wrote in The Adapted Mind of fifteen feminist leaders’ descriptions of their ideal man — descriptions that included the repeated use of terms connoting high status, like “very rich,” “brilliant,” and “genius.”

Amy Alkon, Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck , 2014.

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