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Jess Austin
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It's tempting to be sympathetic to his dilemma, but I'm not.

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Hear, hear! A small portion of these hundred students may be cheats, but most of them were trapped and scammed by a poorly-planned poorly-run course. Prof. Lewis has a nuanced, strategic, complete understanding of the purpose of the institution, which one seldom finds in administrators or younger professors. (Hint: education is about more than never admitting that a professor screwed up.)

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I love the comparison. In general, my rule about the future is: don't credit doomsday scenarios. Rationality breaks down in regions of noncontinuous payoffs. Because we can reason effectively about gradual trends, that's what we should do. (Lamppost hehehe.)

Speaking more specifically, the real entitlement problem is not Social Security, but rather Medicare plus whatever-the-hell we're adding in 2014. Even that wouldn't be a problem if healthcare costs were growing at a predictable rate that was not too much greater than productivity growth for the overall economy (because after all, shouldn't every additional bead of sweat wrung from the brows of the proletariat be transferred forthwith to the physicians and drug companies?). Alas, we don't live in that world. Based purely on measurements from the recent present, we know that costs are increasing unsustainably. We don't have to build a computer model to see the trouble we're in; pencil and paper suffice.

As for the climate, I've been talking up Siberia and Canadia for a long time. The Russian people are dying out; by 2100 southerners will face little resistance colonizing the erstwhile taiga. Asteroids have caused extinctions through climatic shocks, but in every case most biomass survived. Whatever we're doing, it's not going to be a Chicxulub. If the tropics really are growing less hospitable, the people who live there will notice, and move. If they don't notice, then maybe the computer models need a bit of work.
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