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Doomsday Clock Could Move

hendrips Re:Who they do not attempt to stay relevant? (145 comments)

It's often hard to remember how devastating ancient wars were because there's no visual evidence and almost no testimony from the average population. Also, many of the deaths were indirect, as ancient warfare tended to cause widespread plague and famine.

In the Hundred Years War (actually a series of seven wars from 1337 to 1453) between England and France, France lost over half of its population ... and that was a conflict that France won decisively.

There were a few cultures where the situation you describe held true. In Ancient Greece, between the 8th and 6th centuries B.C., wars were mostly small scale affairs that resembled an extremely violent rugby match, with ritually defined locations, combatants, and prizes (usually a herd of goats). But those days were long past by the 5th century, when the Peloponnesian War erupted. We know that Athens lost at least a third of its population during that war, and they got off lucky compared to many other Greek city states, in which the entire citizenry were genocidally wiped out.

about two weeks ago
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IRS Warns of Downtime Risk As Congress Makes Cuts

hendrips Re:So this is a great year to BS my tax return (253 comments)

While your cynicism about the IRS is understandable, it is misplaced in this case. Private citizens, provided they are not wealthy and have an uncomplicated tax return, are often never audited in their entire lives. Large multinationals are audited every single year. Indeed, I know that Exxon gets so much scrutiny from the IRS that they have set aside a floor of their corporate headquarters for the IRS's use (IIRC there were up to 35 auditors plus support staff on site at times).

The reason for this is cause for cynicism - the IRS auditors have quotas, and large corporations are where the money is. I don't have the article now, but I remember reading in 2012 that the IRS's corporate audit division produced around $9,000 per hour in audit revenue. Your puny personal tax return can't compete unless you make a particularly egregious error, or you're one of the unlucky few to get chosen for a random audit.

about two weeks ago
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IRS Warns of Downtime Risk As Congress Makes Cuts

hendrips Re:The IRS could shut down??? (253 comments)

As someone with a fairly libertarian outlook, I'd like to chime in with my agreement. There is a whole raft of cuts that I'd like to make to the IRS and the tax code generally, but I'm not silly enough to think that de-funding their IT budget is going to help accomplish my goals.

about two weeks ago
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Google Thinks the Insurance Industry May Be Ripe For Disruption

hendrips Replacing One Insurance Agent With Another (238 comments)

It sounds like the services described in the summary are still insurance agencies, just with lower (and less visible) costs and more technological awareness:

Some [of these] companies, like CoverHound and PolicyGenius, are online insurance agencies. Others, like Comparenow, send traffic to insurers and get a finder’s fee whenever someone buys a policy.

Now, that's fine as far as it goes; traditional insurance agents are an unnecessary, costly, and often unsavory gatekeeper if you're just looking to buy a vanilla personal insurance policy. If Google et al. can finally get people to cut out traditional agents, that's great - banging on about the evils of old-fashioned financial gatekeepers like stockbrokers and insurance agents is a pet hobby of mine. Still, I guess I'm missing what's so revolutionary here - I've been able to comparison shop directly from company websites like GEICO or Esurance for over a decade, with no intermediary at all.

about two weeks ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

hendrips Re:Honest question. (479 comments)

Sorry, the last bit implies that nursing is having a hard time attracting women, when of course I meant the opposite.

about two weeks ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

hendrips Re:Honest question. (479 comments)

If the answer to that question is "no," then so be it. But that leads to a new question of, "why isn't IT experiencing the same relative gender parity that other professions are?" Admittedly, that question would probably be more suited for a sociologist or psychologist to answer than an employer that's just trying to fill a job vacancy, but it would still be a worthwhile question.

Personally, I am an actuary, and I find this issue to be interesting because my profession has had little trouble attracting qualified females once it started trying. Somewhere around 40%-45% of actuaries in the U.S. are female, up from 7%-8% in the 1970s. That number will presumably get pretty close to parity as the oldest, all-male generation finishes retiring.

Being an actuary is generally technically demanding - it usually requires the ability to perform complex statistical simulations, a knowledge of SQL (or at least enough SQL to be dangerous), an understanding of the finer points of applicable state insurance regulations, and passing a long series of reasonably difficult examinations on probability, finance, general insurance knowledge, and specialty topics. As far as I can tell, getting into the actuarial profession is every bit as difficult as getting into the IT profession, at least in terms of the amount of intelligence, adaptability, and perseverance needed to acquire the necessary technical skills and domain knowledge.

Yet, the actuarial professions has almost achieved achieved gender parity, without really even trying - it just stopped deliberately excluding women in the '70s, and the problem solved itself. And I would point out, my profession is not unique in this respect - it's almost an identical story in the medical profession. There's another post in this thread somewhere claiming that the legal profession is seeing the same pattern. So I do think it's fair to ask why all these other fields that require a high amount of technical skill, not to mention perseverance, can attract women, but IT (and nursing) can't. What makes IT (or nursing) different?

about two weeks ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

hendrips Re:Why is lack of male nurses not an issue? (479 comments)

Well, the nursing profession is, in fact, making a push to attract more male nurses, although they're not throwing a "hissy fit" about it. The American Assembly for Men in Nursing is the organization spearheading this push in the U.S.

about two weeks ago
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AMD, Nvidia Reportedly Tripped Up On Process Shrinks

hendrips Re:Build your own fab (230 comments)

As of September 2014:

-AMD's available cash: $950 million
-AMD's market capitalization: $2.6 billion
-AMD's credit rating: Absolute garbage
-Cost of a new Intel/TSMC style fab: $7 billion - $10 billion

It's a nice thought, but the reason that so many companies, including huge companies like Apple, IBM, and Qualcomm, have gone fabless is that fabs are astonishingly, mind-blowingly, expensive.

about three weeks ago
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AMD, Nvidia Reportedly Tripped Up On Process Shrinks

hendrips Re:bean counters ruin another company (230 comments)

Considering the astonishing rate that AMD was losing money on its fabs, and the fact that upgrading a single fab to a new process node would cost more than AMD's entire market capitalization, I'm going to have to side with the bean counters here.

AMD coundn't even keep its production facilities running. How could they possibly have kept up with TSMC - the world's premier foundry operator?

about three weeks ago
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AMD, Nvidia Reportedly Tripped Up On Process Shrinks

hendrips Re:Production (230 comments)

Hah - $2B would be an optimistic number just for upgrading an existing fab. A brand new fab would be somewhere in the $5B to $10B range, judging by what Intel and TSMC are spending.

about three weeks ago
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Once Again, Baltimore Police Arrest a Person For Recording Them

hendrips Re:Fire all the officers? (515 comments)

If you want a more industry standard source for the relative danger of different jobs, the National Council of Compensation Insurers is a good source to look at. They are the source of information on occupational hazard for workers compensation insurers, so they have an extremely strong incentive to rate work related hazards correctly.

NCCI rates occupations by their Expected Loss Rate - the average number of dollars that an employee will receive in workers compensation payments in a year, per $100 of salary. This tends to be a pretty good indicator of relative occupational hazard for just about everyone except clergy and active duty military, because of the extreme uniformity of claims handling procedures within each state.

Looking at Maryland, where the police in question live, law enforcement officers have an ELR of $1.28. That's compared to, say, rock excavators and stone crushers, who have an ELR of $7.20. So, by that metric, the guys you see on the side of the road in the front wheeled rock crusher have a job that's about 5 and a half times as dangerous as law enforcement work, at least in terms of economic harm.

about a month and a half ago
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Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

hendrips Re:Mississippi Is Doing Something Right? (1051 comments)

Most people who object to vaccination are either 1) wealthy and well educated or 2) members of certain non-mainstream cults/religions. Let's just say that Mississippi is not particularly well known for having a high concentration of people in either of those groups.

about a month and a half ago
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Seeking Coders, Tech Titans Turn To K-12 Schools

hendrips Re:The first few comments are awfully pessimistic (105 comments)

Bad example - modern evidence suggests that the Great Pyramids were built by salaried employees, possibly as a public works program to make up for the seasonal "unemployment" that would have occurred in sync with the Nile's flooding.

The Western notion that the Egyptians had vast hordes of slaves building the pyramids comes from incorrect speculation by the Ancient Greek historians, who didn't know what they were talking about - not really their fault, since the age of pyramids ended 1500 years before the Greek historians began writing.

about 2 months ago
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Apple Accused of Deleting Songs From iPods Without Users' Knowledge

hendrips Re:DRM-only? (250 comments)

I believe that the suit is claiming that Apple was improperly forcing users to perform a factory reset, rather than claiming that the reset process itself was malicious.

about 2 months ago
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Interviews: Malcolm Gladwell Answers Your Questions

hendrips Re:Divisions (48 comments)

Under the ACA, everyone in the United States is required to have health insurance, and health insurance plans are required to provide female contraceptives for free (however, men usually must pay full cost for male contraception). Every women in the United States already has access to free birth control, unless either they are either not complying with the ACA mandate or their employer is one of the very few that have an exemption. Even without insurance, female contraception is around $4-$5 per 28 days at the local pharmacy. What more am I supposed be advocating for?

Interestingly, many pro-lifers actually cite the ubiquitous availability of birth control as one of the reasons they oppose abortion.

about 2 months ago
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UK Announces 'Google Tax'

hendrips Re:Why tax profits, why not income? (602 comments)

The smallest possible deduction for a U.S. taxpayer in 2014 is $3,950 for the personal exemption + $6,200 for the standard deduction. That works out to $845.83 per month, which is certainly enough money for reasonable if sparse two bedroom apartment in my city. And, as I say, that's the theoretical minimum - if you are married, have children, are over 65, are blind, have a high amount of deductible expenses (including but not limited to certain business expenses that you pay for yourself), or earn more than $400 in employment income but less than $37,870, your deduction will be larger - often much larger.

about 2 months ago
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Top Counter-Strike Players Embroiled In Hacking Scandal

hendrips Re:Wait, E-sports players hacking? (224 comments)

In most tournaments that have a significant prize pool, there is usually an online qualifying followed by an in-person elimination round. This gives the best of both worlds: the tournament is able to invite a larger number of teams than logistics would allow if all games were in-person. But the actual prize money is won at the 2-3 day "main event," where the tournament is able to closely supervise the players.

For example, in Dota 2 the Starladder tournament that is going on right now, based in Kiev, invites 44 teams, and has round-robin group play lasting from Nov. 14 to Jan. 18. Obviously, it wouldn't be possible to make 44 different 5 person teams from all over the world stay in Kiev for two months, so they have to have online play for these group stage games. This means that the fans of just about every major Dota team on Earth will want to watch part of the tournament - great for Starladder's viewership. Theoretically, a team could cheat through the group stages since they're using their own computers, but cheating is fairly unlikely because a) even if the team made it to the finals in Kiev by cheating, they'd just get crushed by the legitimate teams and b) most of the cheats that you can use in Dota are very obvious to observers.

My understanding is that this hack was noteworthy because the creator managed to get it flagged as a legitimate configuration file edit, which means that it was able to be used on tournament computers as well as their own. I could be wrong though; I don't follow CS:GO.

about 2 months ago
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Intel Announces Major Reorg To Combine Mobile and PC Divisions

hendrips Re:Not dumping (75 comments)

Yuck - please excuse my poor phrasing. It was early in the morning.

about 2 months ago
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Intel Announces Major Reorg To Combine Mobile and PC Divisions

hendrips Re:Anti-competitive? (75 comments)

Not necessarily. Legally speaking, "tying" as you describe is only a problem if it demonstrably restricts consumer choice (consumers in this case being the phone OEMs). In this case, Intel's actions have if anything increased consumer choice, by providing an alternative to the market-dominating Qualcomm.

about 2 months ago
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Intel Announces Major Reorg To Combine Mobile and PC Divisions

hendrips Re:Not dumping (75 comments)

In U.S. legal parlance at least, all of the following must to be true behavior to qualify as "predatory pricing" for predatory pricing:
-The business in question must have a dominant or substantial market share,
-It must be more likely than not that the company's practices are affecting not only specific rivals but the entire market as a whole,
-There must be a "substantial likelihood" that the predatory pricing will result in successful market monopolization,
-The company's prices must be below any reasonable measure of the cost of production,
-And, there must be evidence of actual harm to consumers (merely having a monopoly is not necessarily illegal, as long as the monopoly isn't provably causing actual harm).

Point 4 might be true for Intel, but the others definitely are not.

about 2 months ago

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