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David Jao
Works at University of Waterloo
Attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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David Jao

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Money quote: "[Regulations] infringing on future profits is presented as a theft deserving of compensation." The appalling scope of this latest corporate rights grab is simply breathtaking. Oil companies will have the right to receive compensation for carbon emissions regulations. Wall Street companies will have the right to receive compensation for consumer finance regulations. Who other than corporate lobbyists thinks this is a good idea?

By the way, here's the text of the intellectual property chapter of the agreement: https://wikileaks.org/tpp-ip3/ (leaked text, as always, because the parties to the agreement have not yet deigned to publish any sanctioned versions).

Here's an analysis of the IP chapter (all negative, of course) from the point of view of civil liberties: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/10/final-leaked-tpp-text-all-we-feared

I can't overemphasize just how much of an anti-consumer, anti-free-trade sellout this agreement represents. Obama has gone all full-corporate with the TPP and he must be stopped.
A provision in the massive trade pact makes it easier for multinationals to take nations to court
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Emotionally, nuclear power is a radioactive topic, but scientifically, nuclear power is our safest energy source and one of the greenest. I wish more people, and especially more environmentalists (who supposedly care about the environment) and scientists (who supposedly are rational thinkers) would take up the cause of advocating for nuclear power.

Let me give you some stats:

Safety: Nuclear power has historically been responsible for a long-term average of 90 deaths per trillion kWh globally, compared to 150 for wind, 440 for solar, and 1400 for hydro. These numbers include estimates of long-term mortality from Chernobyl and Fukushima. In the ~30 years since Chernobyl, a grand total of two people worldwide have died from acute radiation poisoning from a nuclear plant. (Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/06/10/energys-deathprint-a-price-always-paid/)

It turns out that maintenance workers falling off of wind turbines kills more people than nuclear accidents. The big number for hydro comes from catastrophic dam failures such as Banqiao in 1975.

Carbon footprint: The lifecycle carbon footprint of nuclear power is 12 gCO2eq/kWh, second only to onshore wind (11 gCO2eq/kWh), and far better than hydro (24 gCO2eq/kWh) and solar (41 gCO2eq/kWh). (Source: 2014 IPCC report, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life-cycle_greenhouse-gas_emissions_of_energy_sources)

Of course, fossil fuels are far worse (e.g. coal kills170000 people per trillion kWh and has a lifecycle carbon footprint of 820 gCO2eq/kWh). I certainly support any strategy that gets us off fossil fuels, even if the end result is slightly suboptimal. But I do not believe that our current strategy of ignoring nuclear power will help us get off fossil fuels. We have several decades of experience with large-scale nuclear power. It would be foolish not to use it.

Aside from the major concerns of safety and carbon footprint, there are a whole host of relatively minor concerns, easily addressed. What should we do with nuclear waste? (Recycle it into nuclear fuel.) How much nuclear fuel do we have? (Billions of years worth: http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/cohen.html) And so on.

I believe most environmentalists respect scientific facts, and most scientists understand the need for environmental action. The science is really clear: nuclear power provides the best balance of safety and carbon footprint (e.g. it beats solar on both counts). I wish that environmentalists and scientists would begin the daunting task of educating the public about nuclear power, rather than themselves needing to be educated.
Nothing but fear and capital stand in the way of a nuclear-powered ;future
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Bluefin had an Obama sushi roll today too, though I didn't try it.
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+The SageMathCloud​ in action at the PIMS CRG Workshop on Explicit Methods for Abelian Varieties (+David Roe​ presenting).
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This needs a signal boost. Relevant for anyone who cares about the past and/or future of mathematical publishing. Money quote: "most of my books are there -- help yourself." (h/t +Joe Corneli)
The world of professional publishing, of scholarly communication, is in a state of profound transformation. In some fields, for example physics and computer science, researchers have embraced this transformation and are forging new policies and better customs. In my experience, however, ...
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Los Angeles Superior Court judge Rolf M. Treu has ruled that California's teacher tenure laws represent an unconstitutional violation of the California Constitution's equal protection clause guaranteeing each student equal access to education.

It's virtually impossible to find any neutral coverage of this story; the LexisNexis story below is as close as I could get. Some overtly partisan sites include:
http://studentsmatter.org/ (plaintiffs)
http://www.cta.org/ (defendants)
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/03/16/1284248/-Vergara-v-California-The-most-dangerous-lawsuit-you-probably-haven-t-heard-of (biased, liberal viewpoint)
http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-California/2014/04/29/Vergara-Case-Challenges-Teacher-Tenure (biased, conservative viewpoint)

My concern is not for public school education; that's an important battle, but a separate battle, which lies outside of my expertise. What worries me is that, simply put, this is a sneak attack against academic tenure. If teachers unions lose this round, you can be sure that David Welch and his friends will go after public universities next. And while private universities are probably immune to this particular constitutional challenge, these guys are persistent and I'm sure they'll think of something. Moreover, the institution of tenure itself would be greatly diminished if it were restricted primarily to private institutions.

Tenure isn't perfect, but it has served us educators well for over a century. I'm not willing to throw the whole system out just because it isn't 100% perfect.
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David Jao

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TPP is about imposing restrictive, anti-competitive US IP policy on the rest of the world. It is written by big business, for big business, to protect big business interests. Obama's support of TPP places him solidly in the conservative right wing and represents one of the biggest disappointments of his presidency alongside his expansion of NSA wiretapping. Let's do everything we can to prevent TPP from becoming a reality.
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Burj Khalifa in Dubai through the car window on my way to Abu Dhabi.
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Am I the only one who is bothered by Viacom/TV Land pulling the Dukes of Hazzard off the air?

I understand that no government action is involved, and Viacom, as a private company, has the right to make business decisions regarding airtime. There is no direct first amendment issue.

I understand that the shooting in Charleston was horrible, and I think it's nuts for South Carolina to fly the "Confederate flag" on statehouse grounds, but that's not the same issue.

The closest recent parallel I can find is "The Interview," which, let's face it, is way more racist than the Dukes of Hazzard ever was, and is at least tangentially associated with horrible human rights atrocities in North Korea, atrocities on a scale comparable with the horrors of institutional racism in the US. Sony Pictures Entertainment made a business decision to pull the movie from theaters, just as Viacom is doing here. And yet the Sony decision was met with cries of Censorship! from a wide spectrum of the American public, not just one side of the political divide.

For the record, I loved The Interview, and I loved the Dukes of Hazzard, and I don't think either one of them should be pulled.
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I don't have an opinion about that particular show, as it's been over 30 years since I've seen it. I just meant in general, there are messages that can be sent by taking symbolic actions that don't necessarily make a ton of functional sense when examined as an isolated decision.
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Canadians like to think of themselves as more civilized than our American neighbors, but when it comes to immigration, Canada has a lot to learn.

I am a US citizen by birth, along with my children. My wife is a US citizen by naturalization. The only difference in our legal status is that my wife cannot be the President or Vice-President of the United States, a restriction which is written into the US Constitution, and for most people is really not a big deal. In every other respect, all US citizens are equal before the law; this right is guaranteed by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and cannot be overridden by statute.

US citizenship is valued in large part because of the opportunities that it provides, and the openness with which those opportunities are offered. The promise of equality is central to the core concept of American opportunity. It is the reason why Americans of all origins can call the United States their home. You are one of us, no matter where you are from, or how you got here. You are always welcome home, no matter where you go, or how long you leave.

Having been born and raised with these values, it comes as an absolute shock to me that Canadians would wish to demote citizens of immigrant origins to second-class status. I have no direct voice in Canadian politics, since I am not a citizen, but after seeing this ugly outcome, I am not even sure I want to be a (second-class) citizen. By degrading the privileges of citizenship, you degrade the value of citizenship. To be clear, I appreciate the warmth with which I have been welcomed into Canada and the economic opportunities that have been given to me. But I feel that immigration must be a two-way street, and that immigrants deserve respect as well, regardless of where they came from.
It’s a tale of two contradictions, says David Cohen, a Toronto immigration lawyer. Canada, a country that prides itself on diversity, has just made it harder for immigrants to become citizens. Germain Zima is among the estimated thousands of Torontonians caught in the snarl of what moved through government channels as Bill C-24.
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Point.
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When a corporation scrapes web sites, the media calls it a "leak" and explicitly labels it "not a hack job."

But when B-school applicants (who by the way end up working at said corporations) do the exact same thing, it's unambiguously called a "hack": http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2005/03/09/mit_says_it_wont_admit_hackers/
Twitter's leaked earnings were not a hack job, but only high-powered computer could have detected the early release of the sensitive financial data.
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It's kind of frustrating what gets considered hacking in general, especially by policy makers. Especially how it gets applied to middle and high schoolers. "You figured out your teacher's password is their first name and changed their background? You terrible hacker you!"
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"This debate is not your garden-variety political crisis. It's the battle for the long-term viability of American democracy, and it's a battle that the Democrats simply must win even if it means risking default."
The shutdown is political blackmail. If Democrats give in, the GOP will keep putting the US democracy and economy at risk
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  • University of Waterloo
    Associate Professor, 2006 - present
    Faculty of Mathematics.
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  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Mathematics
  • Harvard University
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