Monday/Tuesday Highlights

Links?

  1. So there’s this survey …. I have a beef with one of their questions. There is a question asking if you value higher self-control or creativity. This is a confusing question to answer, I think creativity is incredibly important. I also think that self-discipline/self-control are a pre-requisite for creativity. If you think calculus is valuable can you weigh the relative importance of the ability to do algebra or calculus higher? I answered algebra, because calculus. Is this how we distinguish liberals from conservatives, liberals are those who don’t think creativity requires discipline? What? Do they think creativity just sort of “happens” magically?
  2. A died in the wool classical liberal.
  3. Mammals can learn.
  4. So, cui bono and the minimum wage. When you factor in how much a higher min wage boosts automation, you can pretty much set aside notion that the beneficiaries are the “the poor”.
  5. Ignorance, democracy, and gun control.
  6. Safety nets.
  7. Haute couture.
  8. Obamacare. And the coming bailout.
  9. Climate change, I’m missing the part where this is bad.
  10. More on climate here.
  11. A quality American education, eh?
  12. “Republicans” do that? Not all of us.
  13. Bigotry exemplified. Don’t judge on the quality of the work (content of character) but the gender count of your references, i.e., the color of your skin.
  14. Income inequality.
  15. That voter fraud.
  16. Go girl!

22 responses to “Monday/Tuesday Highlights

  1. 4.So, cui bono and the minimum wage. When you factor in how much a higher min wage boosts automation, you can pretty much set aside notion that the beneficiaries are the “the poor”.

    Doesn’t quite ring true to me, though the theory sounds good. Consider food service. What’s a low skilled, low wage position? Burger flipper. Higher skilled one? Host/short order cook? Which position(s) have been more automated? It seems the latter rather than the former yet those jobs are less likely to be min. wage ones automated away.

  2. 15.That voter fraud.

    And what about ‘voter fraud fraud’. That’s where you, say, buy a list of convicted felons from a private data company and if it has the name “Malcom Jamil” you scurb all 35 people with that name from the list of registered voters without bothering to double check whether they are all the same person who was a felon or different people who just happen to have the same name as someone who was convicted of a felony? Or where you institute an ID system that requires 90 year olds to go track down certified birth certificates from before the age of databases? Or for that matter simply changing the polling hours so that people with 9-5 jobs who can’t easily take time off from work are confronted with a choice between multi-hour waits or not voting?

    Seems to me you should set the ‘disenfranchised’ against the wrongly enfranchised and evaluate the system from there.

  3. 8.Obamacare. And the coming bailout.

    Chalking it up as too soon to tell, esp. since people can sign up as late as the first quarter for an exchange plan (the December date was only if you wanted to avoid not having coverage on 1/1/14).

    But we go back to the whole mechanism thing. If only sick people sign up for the exchange plan, where were those sick people getting care from in 2013? The answer isn’t that they were old and getting it from Medicare, since they would still get it from there. The answer probably isn’t Medicaid either. So they were probably getting it from employer based plans. So if employer based plans would have to get cheaper as sick people leave them and migrate to exchanges. If subsidies grow towards the exchanges, on the flip side employers are deducting less on their taxes for employer provided plans. I predict it’s going to be a wash.

    I also predict you’re going to discover that Medicaid expansion will turn out to be insanely cheap. They have already found that the old 80-20 rule applies to Medicaid (the 20% sickest people make up 80% of the total cost). The medicaid expansion primarily benefits the working poor which means the increase in medicaid patients is going to result in a lot of new people who cost less to cover than average. So Medicaid can be expanded for a fraction of the cost per patient.

    So on the bottom you have expand Medicaid, on the top you have subsidies and incentives to buy private insurance plans individually. That sounds pretty much like a conservative plan for universal coverage. If not we are still waiting after nearly a half decade to hear what the conservative option is.

  4. Boonton,

    If only sick people sign up for the exchange plan, where were those sick people getting care from in 2013?

    Well bucketloads of them had coverage, but it got canceled.

    “Disenfranchised” = people who don’t care, illegal aliens, and felons. And this is a problem exactly, why?

  5. Boonton,

    It seems the latter rather than the former yet those jobs are less likely to be min. wage ones automated away.

    I’d argue the other way. Compare your weekend diner to McDonald’s. You don’t actually find burger flippers there, they put batches of burgers on a belt and they come out cooked.

  6. Well bucketloads of them had coverage, but it got canceled

    So the people in the exchanges in 2014 are the exact same people who had private plans in 2013? Cool, you just contradicted yourself. If the population didn’t change it didn’t get any sicker.

    “Disenfranchised” = people who don’t care, illegal aliens, and felons. And this is a problem exactly, why?

    If I happen to share the same first and last name with someone whose a felon I’m a felon too unless I’m the type to hire a lawyer to correct the error?

    Compare your weekend diner to McDonald’s. You don’t actually find burger flippers there, they put batches of burgers on a belt and they come out cooked.

    Taco Bell is even better since they are laid out so you can see more of what they do. What really struck me about them last time I was in there was:

    1. They have a lot of people.
    2. The people are manning a lot of automated machines and system.

    The automation in the food industry seems to target higher, not lower, skills and doing so let’s them hire more low skilled workers at min. wage, not less. Staring at how many were on the floor at Taco Bell, it appeared the staff was equal to or larger than a modest sized dinner.

  7. http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/01/14/restaurant_automation_always_one_step_around_the_corner.html?wpisrc=burger_bar

    Some interesting takes on why automation has happened a lot in the food industry, yet it still remains labor intensive.

    Interestingly the most automated example ever was the automat where the entire operation was essentially turned into a massive vending machine. Oddly it’s all but extinct today.

  8. 13.Bigotry exemplified. Don’t judge on the quality of the work (content of character) but the gender count of your references, i.e., the color of your skin.

    Curious the only bigotry here is bigotry against anti-bigotry. If you read the article the first thing the author addresses is whether there are still areas of the subject where women have not made serious contributions to the literature. She says they aren’t.

    So the person is confronted with a paper in a field whose literature they are not familiar with that contains references to only male authors. Clearly the quality in this field is measured, at least in part, by the quality of your references and references are expected to demonstrate a broad reading of the sub-field covered by the paper.*

    So if you’re confronted with a paper with only one gender of references the odds of that happening ‘by chance’ are very, very low. The possibility that this subfield may simply have no women contributors to cite or wothy of citation is considered and rejected. So clearly it makes sense to ask why this selection of citations? That hardly seems bigoted nor is it over the top political correctness.

    (* Citations also appear to be a form of currency in academic society. ‘Good members’ are expected to cite others generously and frequently and social status is measured by how many citations you get….sort of like some people measure status by comparing Facebook friend counts. In that case excluding a large group of people from citation raises the fair question that bias might be afoot. Of course you can argue that citations should not be used this way, but that’s another issue).

    Now of course Mark won’t pass up an opportunity whenever some media watch group says almost all the reporters at some newspaper are liberals or non-Christians are highly overrepresented in some media form relative to their population as a whole. It’s ok to ignore quality of content when your favored groups are not getting a quota it seems.

  9. Boonton,
    I think the thing you are forgetting is small number statistics are basically meaningless. You cite 8 people in a paper. All are male. 12 people in academia in the whole world are actively writing on that topic. That they are all male does not mean gender entered your consideration at all when citing papers. Yet the linked authors seem to think that should be a consideration.

    In that case excluding a large group of people from citation raises the fair question that bias might be afoot.

    Large numbers? Pshaw.

    The number of journalists (as you know) dwarfs the number of philosphers considering abstruse topics in that field.

    But hey, if you think of the author is relevant when deciding to read reading a paper (and not the topic, title and abstract), more power to you. It’s just that thinking it is important is, as I noted, bigotry.

  10. You cite 8 people in a paper. All are male. 12 people in academia in the whole world are actively writing on that topic.

    I do you one better. Suppose the ratio of male to female is 50-50. If you flipped a coin 8 times, there’s a 1 in 128 chance you’ll get 8 heads. So if lots of pepole wrote papers with just 8 citations So if you had hundreds of short 8-citation papers, you’d expect to turn up with a few all male or all female citations every now and then.

    But the odds fall off a lot faster after that. Going up to just 15 same gender and the odds become 1 in 32,768. Possible but not likely.

    Needless to say, though, the author seems to consider the ‘innocent’ possibilities and it appears in this field it’s normal to cite a lot of people in any paper and women are in almost all the subfields of the literature. So the chances of the ‘innocent’ citation of only men or only women is discounted. Notice that it’s written that it would be a ‘non-trivial’ task to bring onesself up to speed on the literature in the subfield. So it would seem the paper is neither very short nor in a very arcane field.

    The number of journalists (as you know) dwarfs the number of philosphers considering abstruse topics in that field.

    Irrelevant, if you object to a newspaper having all it’s reporters being registered Democrats you can’t defend a philosophy paper that cites 50 references, all of them male. If the latter is ‘bigotry’ then you have to live by the same rule as well.

  11. So there’s this survey ….

    I think this is missing the point. The research they’ve done illustrates that we operate morally on two levels. One is intuition and the other is rationalization. The latter is the type of thing that happens in a classroom when you debate a topic like the death penalty or abortion. People try to present arguments using facts and logic.

    The former, though, is revealed when you ask people to make quick snap judgements. For example, the trolly car is out of control, is it right to push a fat man in it’s way if it will prevent it from hitting and killing three children? What about if there’s a switch in front of you, flip it one way and you divert it on a track where it will hit the fat man. Do nothing and it will kill the children.

    What’s interesting is that most of our moral reasoning seems to happen intuitively only after which our rational brains work on creating complicated (and often convoluted) ‘logic’ to justify these decisions are purely rational.

  12. Boonton,
    Uhm, my objection wasn’t about the “point of the survey” but the difficulty of answering the question given its premise, i.e., if you belief (as I do) that self-control is required for creativity, how do you answer a question asking which is more important?

    Are you purposely bringing back the “fat-man/trolley” false dichotomy, in that a better solution than subduing and flinging a “fat man” onto the tracks that there are certainly better things at hand (belt a bundle of clothes and luggage (or backpacks) together and you’d have a better braking/stopping object that a person (remember people are basically water and lipids, not exactly the best braking material).

    I suppose that was could bring up the question of whether you disagree with my premise (self-control/discipline required for creativity) and whether that is a liberal/conservative divide in an of itself, i.e., that progressives/liberals might be susceptible to the magical belief that creativity comes out of your butt magically without hard work, discipline and self-control.

  13. The second paragraph is the fallacy of ‘fighting the hypothetical’. For purposes of the question you have a split moment and by definition there are no other alternatives. You don’t get to play MacGuyver by using a backpack, a paperclip and a coffee stirrer to improvise a ‘break’ to save everyone.

    Interestingly, the ‘fat-man’ question comes up all the time in Superhero movies. In at least two Spiderman movies the villian tried to force the hero to make such a choice by requiring two different people to be rescued at the same time. Of course the first Superman movie did this too (two nuclear missiles, one heading for CA and the other for Hoboken). Almost always the movies end up cheating (Superman, of course, reversed time to save Louis). One of the few movies to confront this question more honesty was the 2nd Batman movie where Batman had to choose between saving Harvy Dent, Gotham’s best chance at salvation, or his love Rachel Dawes. The choice was real because it had real consquences for him.

    In regards to the 3rd paragraph, no one disagrees but that’s the point of the question. Upon a lot of reflection both liberal orientated people and conservative ones will admit the value of both. But instinctually you are inclined to talk up self-control first. This is a hint that your subconscious leans conservative. That your conscious mind can think of ways to rationally reconcile this to liberal values is irrelevant.

  14. Boonton,

    That your conscious mind can think of ways to rationally reconcile this to liberal values is irrelevant.

    I see. Some years ago, atheists were crowing that some math problems which, if you don’t think about it, you’d answer incorrectly were more often answered wrong by theists than fresh-out-of-school atheists. This apparently meant that atheists were smarter and more inclined to carefully examine questions. But apparently liberals are less inclined to examine these questions.

    In regards to the 3rd paragraph, no one disagrees but that’s the point of the question.

    You are saying “the point of the question” is that it is an impossible to answer question? Which is more important, getting up in the morning or having breakfast? Climbing a mountain or getting to the top? Putting on clothes or being dressed.

    BTW, I’d set aside the first question as another kind of misleading one, “do you like cats or dogs more?” Uhm, I’m extremely highly allergic to cats. “Do you like dogs or breathing?” isn’t a very hard question to answer. However if that is your choice, I suspect it doesn’t tell you much about your politics.

    For purposes of the question you have a split moment and by definition there are no other alternatives.

    You might call it “fighting the hypothetical” and pretend it’s a fallacy. Or, you could read Godel, Escher, Bach, and rejecting the question (MU) becomes the essence of Zen. My rejection isn’t about playing MacGuyver but that to point out that in the real world there are lots of way way better things to stop a train than a fat man. In the 2nd Batman movie, for example, the Dent/Dawes choice makes for great drama, but in real life, give me a break. Are there only two people who can be called on to act in a whole city? Please. That’s kind like the Lord of the Rings joke in which it is pointed out, gee Gandalf why not call the Eagles in at the first chapter and fly the ring to Mount Doom and end the book in 10 pages. It’s not a fallacy to point out that your hypothetical is horribly flawed. Instead I’d argue it’s a good reason not to think very hard any more about the issue. My rejoinder is that there are always other choices.

  15. I see. Some years ago, atheists were crowing that some math problems which, if you don’t think about it, you’d answer incorrectly were more often answered wrong by theists than fresh-out-of-school atheists. This apparently meant that atheists were smarter and more inclined

    That would be very fascinating if it was the case. You mean you could tell if someone was an atheist or not just by how they answered some math problems (provided they were told to answer very fast without giving it lots of thought)?

    If it’s true, that’s interesting but it may not mean the ‘why’ favored by liberals or atheists (you seem to consider them the same group?) was right.

    You are saying “the point of the question” is that it is an impossible to answer question?

    But you did answer it.

    Which is more important, getting up in the morning or having breakfast? Climbing a mountain or getting to the top? Putting on clothes or being dressed.

    Imagine you asked 100 people those questions. One would expect the answers to be rather random but what if you noticed they weren’t? Suppose you found different ideological or demographic groups did have patterns to their answers. If this relationship was very strong, you could even guess what a person was (say their gender, religion, politics etc.) just by looking at their answers.

    BTW, I’d set aside the first question as another kind of misleading one, “do you like cats or dogs more?” Uhm, I’m extremely highly allergic to cats. …

    The correct answer is dogs.

    You might call it “fighting the hypothetical” and pretend it’s a fallacy. Or, you could read Godel, Escher, Bach, and rejecting the question (MU) becomes the essence of Zen.

    A Zen Master might say that confronted with such a case one would act and one should act well. If you asked him “yes but should he flip the switch” he might reply “ask me after it happens”.

    Your initial reply was an attempt to engineer yourself out of the hypothetical (“maybe there’s some belts and luggage and we I can make them into a better break than the fat-man….ohh wait they’re dead!”). Trying to find escape clauses that let you dodge the question isn’t the same thing as confronting it but rejecting the question as a Zen student might do.

    That’s kind like the Lord of the Rings joke in which it is pointed out, gee Gandalf why not call the Eagles in at the first chapter and fly the ring to Mount Doom and end the book in 10 pages.

    1. The approaching eagles would have been visible to Sauron, he would have prepared defenses around Mt. Doom and taken back the ring. The ring-waiths esp.

    2. Gandalf doesn’t control the eagles. They are independent actors in Middle-Earth so there’s only so many ‘favors’ he can ask them to indulge him in. (There’s another Wizard whose speciality is communing with animals, but he seems to have gone missing from the great war in Tolkein’s work….Wizards themselves are not very reliable. Some are seduced by power, others seem to detach themselves from the world and ignore what’s going on in it).

    3. Gandalf’s true nature is more akin to an angel sent to Middle-Earth to inspire those there to action.

  16. Boonton,

    But you did answer it.

    No. Not answering was not a choice. I didn’t like any possible answer. I would have preferred a “question does not make sense” choice.

    The correct answer is dogs.

    Is this a joke? Apparently liberals prefer cats. It’s not a possible answer for me however. Does that mean you think conservatives are more likely to have cat dander allergies?

    If you asked him “yes but should he flip the switch” he might reply “ask me after it happens”.

    Hofstadter’s hermenuetic/interpretations of the word “Mu” was that it was a response which “unasked” the question.

    Your initial reply was an attempt to engineer yourself out of the hypothetical (“maybe there’s some belts and luggage and we I can make them into a better break than the fat-man….ohh wait they’re dead!”). Trying to find escape clauses that let you dodge the question isn’t the same thing as confronting it but rejecting the question as a Zen student might do.

    I fail to see the distinction. Both reject the hypothetical as invalid. Look at your intial response, that using a “fat man” is quicker than throwing some solid object in the tracks … yet what is involved in “throwing a fat man”. You need to look at the passengers and decide the fastest thing was to subdue and manhandle a 300+ pound man onto the tracks in front of the train. This begs a question …. have you ever been on a subway or elevated train. Do you have access to “in front of the train” at all? Get that person onto the tracks? Are you knocking him out? How? Have you ever tried lifting even an unconscious 5 y/old? Now consider what it would take for you to move a limp unconscious 300+ pound person. I doubt you could even get him from one seat to another much less move him forward (even if you were on the first car) to the door much less over whatever railing there was and onto the tracks? This is apparently easier and quicker in your mind than just bundling a few backpacks in a coat and tying it with a belt. One what planet is that even possible? Not earth certainly. Do you think that “fat man” would stop the train? How quickly? Do you know how heavy a train is? Why then is rejecting the hypothetical not the ordinary expected response?

    The approaching eagles would have been visible to Sauron,

    There is no indication that Sauron could respond that quickly. He used agents, none of which could respond quickly enough.

    Gandalf doesn’t control the eagles

    On several occasions they respond to his requests. Why do you suppose this one is out of bounds?

    Gandalf’s true nature is more akin to an angel sent to Middle-Earth to inspire those there to action.

    Yah. Exactly what he’d be doing. Inspiring a hobbit and an Eagle and avoiding several wars.

  17. Boonton,
    Which, when placed on the tracks, do you think would slow a 120-240 ton locomotive more, a man or a large suitcase? I vote suitcase.

  18. Dogs are better than cats. Just a fact. Dogs are evolved to be companions to humans, cats are not (at least not in the same way).

    Sauron:

    There is no indication that Sauron could respond that quickly. He used agents, none of which could respond quickly enough.

    His eye was constantly scanning his realm and he could respond very quickly when the threat was very clear to him. He would have more expected to be challenged by an enemy bearing the ring. Gandalf’s tactic of entrusting it to a hobbit was unexpected.

    In Mt. Doom, though, when Frodo fails to throw the ring in and puts it on, the waiths and Sauron immediately sense where it is and who has it and the waiths make for Mt. Doom very quickly. The day is only saved because the ring was so close that even flying very quickly they couldn’t save it from destruction. If instead Sauron could view giant eagles approaching his kingdom with wizards/elves/men riding along hundreds of miles before they arrived I suspect he could have stopped them.

    On several occasions they respond to his requests. Why do you suppose this one is out of bounds?

    Several times in the story kingdoms question why they should risk their lives as part of a coalition against Sauron. It’s pretty clear that even those generally aligned with good are less than inspired to accept excessive risks to themselves. For example, you might recall the Ents more or less went back to their business after throwing off Sauraman rather than going to Gondor to finish the war.

    Yah. Exactly what he’d be doing. Inspiring a hobbit and an Eagle and avoiding several wars.

    Gandalf is better at inspiring men than animals. His fellow wizard Radaghast the Brown spent most of his time with animals and nature but, possibly as a consquence, seemed only half connected to the concerns of men.

    Which, when placed on the tracks, do you think would slow a 120-240 ton locomotive more, a man or a large suitcase? I vote suitcase.

    What if there is no suitcase nearby, the 300 lb man isn’t unconscious but isn’t paying attention so if you give him a quick shove he will tumble onto the track. The trolly has an automatic break that will engage if it detects hitting a person so while some other object may or may not work you have very good reason the fat man will get the job done.

  19. Boonton,

    What if there is no suitcase nearby, the 300 lb man isn’t unconscious but isn’t paying attention so if you give him a quick shove he will tumble onto the track.

    Tell me what train you’ve been on where you could even get to the tracks in front of the train?

    The trolly has an automatic break that will engage….

    In which case it will have such a break inside the train that can be manually activated.

  20. Boonton,
    A more realistic scenario might play out that you manage to push the fat man onto the tracks, the engineer/driver hits the brakes, and the fat man consisting of lipids and water greases the tracks so the braking is ineffective and because you pushed the man on the tracks it cannot stop in time. It is quite possible your efforts will do the opposite of that for which you desire. I suppose that could be a parable on the relationship of liberal/progressives and unintended consequences.

  21. Tell me what train you’ve been on where you could even get to the tracks in front of the train?

    We said trolly so the tracks are very much within normal access.

    In which case it will have such a break inside the train that can be manually activated.

    One would think, but the trolly had only a single conductor on it who suddenly died of a heart attack so no one can activate this manual break. Strangely his body is slumped over in such a way that the ‘deadman switch’ is left engaged. Perhaps you could jump on the trolly when it goes by but it’s highly unlikely you could find this break and activate it in time. Due to your swimming, you’ve developed a balance problem with your inner ear so if you did jump onboard you’d be highly unlikely to be able to get to the conductor’s spot quickly.

    and the fat man consisting of lipids and water greases the tracks so the braking is ineffective and because you pushed the man on the tracks it cannot stop in time.

    As I pointed out, the trolly has been fitted with an automatic breaking system that activates if it detects it has hit a person or object about the mass of a person. The system is sufficient to stop the trolly before it hits the children (tracks on the street get things like water and greeze on them all the time, and it’s not like a human body is a giant water balloon that just bursts open, it will be messy but the trolly will stop). Before you ask a pre-emptory breaking system that would active should the computer detect it was *about* to hit someone was not installed on the trolly, your Tea Party friends voted down the additional funding for that.

  22. Boonton,

    We said trolly so the tracks are very much within normal access.

    Look at some pictures of a trolly. You don’t have access to the front.

    As I pointed out, the trolly has been fitted with an automatic breaking system that activates if it detects it has hit a person or object about the mass of a person.

    On which planet do these trolly’s operate? How about if we add to the hypothetical that thirteen isn’t prime? Or … is not not realistic enough … but it is just about as realistic as your hypothetical. As I said. Wrestle with a 400 pound man sometime. Or try to lift an unconscious one. I struggled with an unconscious 3 y/old who was 30 some pounds … and I was fit.

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