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Paul Tucker
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Paul Tucker

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It can be good to feel wealthy, but it's better to live in a middle-class country.  This makes the case for a higher minimum wage better than I've heard it before,
Memo: From Nick HanauerTo: My Fellow ZillionairesYou probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for...
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+David desJardins What evidence do you have that "we are laking in investment far more than in consumption"?  Also, wouldn't increasing the minimum wage to $15/hr put some upward pressure on wages which are currently above that floor?  What other policies would you support for decreasing income inequality?
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I just donated to Lessig's new PAC to fight political corruption fostered by...PACs and the electoral system.  I hope you'll give some serious consideration to this problem and perhaps do the same.
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Just in case you haven't been paying attention to climate science lately.
 
I really enjoy posting fun stuff here.  But this is serious.

Steve Easterbrook just finished writing a series of important posts on Azimuth, summarizing part of the IPCC report on climate change.  Here's a short version of his last post.  Pay attention!

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To stay below 2°C of warming, most fossil fuels must stay buried in the ground.

Perhaps the most profound advance since the previous IPCC report is a characterization of our global carbon budget. This is based on a finding that has emerged strongly from a number of studies in the last few years: the expected temperature change has a simple linear relationship with cumulative CO2 emissions since the beginning of the industrial era.

The chart is hard to follow, but the main idea is this: whatever we do, the results tend to lie on a straight line on this graph. You do get a slightly different slope in one case, “1% percent CO2 increase per year", where only CO2 rises - and much more slowly than it has over the last few decades.  But all the more realistic scenarios lie in the orange band, and all have about the same slope.

This is a useful insight, because it means that for any target ceiling for temperature rise - like the UN’s commitment to not allow warming to rise more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels - we can easily estimate the total amount of carbon we can spew into the atmosphere:

• To give us a one third (33%) chance of staying below 2°C of warming over pre-industrial levels, we cannot ever emit more than 880 gigatonnes of carbon.

• To give us a 50% chance, we cannot ever emit more than 840 gigatonnes of carbon.

• To give us a 66% chance, we cannot ever emit more than 800 gigatonnes of carbon.

Since the beginning of industrialization, we have already emitted a little more than 500 gigatonnes. So, our remaining budget is somewhere between 300 and 400 gigatonnes of carbon.

Existing known fossil fuel reserves are enough to release at least 1000 gigatonnes. New discoveries and unconventional sources will likely more than double this.

That leads to one conclusion:

Most of our remaining carbon reserves must never reach the atmosphere.

We’ve never done that before. There is no political or economic system anywhere in the world currently that can persuade an energy company to leave a valuable fossil fuel resource untapped. There is no government in the world that has demonstrated the ability to forgo the economic wealth from natural resource extraction, for the good of the planet as a whole. We’re lacking both the political will and the political institutions to achieve this. Finding a way to achieve this presents us with a challenge far bigger than we ever imagined.

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Red Steve's whole series of posts starting here:

http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/what-does-the-new-ipcc-report-say-about-climate-change-part-1/

Each post summarizes a key finding of the IPCC Working Group 1 report on climate change, released last year.  These findings are:

1. The warming is unequivocal.

2. Humans caused the majority of it.

3. The warming is largely irreversible.

4. Most of the heat is going into the oceans.

5. Current rates of ocean acidification are unprecedented.

6. We have to choose which future we want very soon.

7.  To stay below 2°C of warming, the world must become carbon negative.

8.  To stay below 2°C of warming, most fossil fuels must stay buried in the ground.

The graph here is explained in Steve's 8th post:

http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/what-does-the-new-ipcc-report-say-about-climate-change-part-8/

and in more detail on page 28 of the Summary for Policymakers:

http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/report/WG1AR5_SPM_FINAL.pdf

and page 15 of the Technical Summary Supplementary Material:

http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/report/WG1AR5_TSSM_FINAL.pdf
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Somewhat dramatized video of a persistence hunt in the Kalahari, similar to as described in "Born To Run."  Interestingly, the running hunter wears contemporary training shoes and seems to have a hybrid gait: forefoot striking with one foot, while heel striking with the other.  Both may reflect compromises from an unknown ideal to deal with past injuries and a limited choice of footwear to prevent new injuries from ground hazards.
 
David Attenborough narrates this segment about the most ancient form of human hunting. The physical strength, mental fortitude, and spiritual purity of this man is nothing short of awe inspiring. I will never be able to complain about going to the gym ever again. 
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Backdoors everywhere.   Today's NSA leak story elaborates on the idea that a secret cryptanalytic breakthrough has been made.  Equally interesting is that the NSA often bypasses encryption by directly accessing plaintext on either end of the encrypted link, and has a dictionary of keys many of which have presumably been harvested through systems backdoors or otherwise penetrating the institution guarding a key.
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That key dictionary seems like it would be a tempting target.  Any reason to think it is less vulnerable than all of the documents which Snowden stole?
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When I was a child, imbibing simplified Americanism along with the spirit of the 60s, "All men are created equal" made perfect sense to me: no one should be treated unfairly, or be impeded arbitrarily.  Like my peers, I hated unfairness.   Now with the cautious skepticism of age I understand this phrase mainly as revolutionary propaganda or social idealism otherwise difficult to reconcile with observation.  No two people are equivalent in pretty much any non-trivial respect, so it's not hard to understand that inequality of outcome should exist.  That's a fundamental feature of nature we see everywhere.  I believe that effective policy should be shaped foremost by empirical understanding of reality.  It's just difficult to find a broadly acceptable set of compromises with that ineffable sense of "fairness." 
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"No two people are equivalent in pretty much any non-trivial respect, so it's not hard to understand that inequality of outcome should exist".

I would tend to agree if we lived in a hypothetical world where the differences were purely due to innate ability, and independent of circumstance. But in a different hypothetical world, where everyone had the same potential at birth, and the differences in their current ability were simply due to circumstance, inequality of outcome would seem harder to justify.

In reality, we appear to live in a messy world between those two extremes where the notion of fairness depends in part on what proportion of "ability" is determined by nature vs nurture. Perhaps that's part of the empirical understanding that you're alluding to?
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Paul Tucker

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You've likely noticed that the US congress has difficulty in implementing long term strategy that is in the broad interest of the nation.  Arguably, part of the problem is an electoral financing system that enables narrow interests with wealth, available now and to be gained, to spend heavily and anonymously on elections.  Lawrence Lessig is organizing a PAC to combat the recent deregulation of PACs.  It's critical that this effort receive some more support in the next week.  I hope you'll join me in doing so.
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Fresh wasp galls on a small valley oak in Santa Clara County.

http://daviswiki.org/Plant_Gall
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Big eggs for such a small insect!
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Kahan calls this theory Identity-Protective Cognition: "As a way of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups, individuals subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values." Elsewhere, he puts it even more pithily: "What we believe about the facts," he writes, "tells us who we are."
 
Fascinating article on why science and analytical thinking are not working in our politics.

http://www.vox.com/2014/4/6/5556462/brain-dead-how-politics-makes-us-stupid
There’s a simple theory underlying much of American politics. It sits hopefully at the base of almost every speech, every op-ed, every article, and every panel discussion. It courses through the...
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Looking forward to trying out the new Wolfram Language, but supposedly it already has "11,000 pages of documentation."  Wonder if it dynamically generates its own specialized documentation in response to your questions?  Seems consistent with other claims about its capabilities.
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I have an alternative and less sinister theory on the PRISM brouhaha.  Some managerial type person in the US Gov (maybe at NSA, maybe in congress) really wanted to build a super-cool spying system that would listen to everyone all the time everywhere, and dictated to his minions that It Be So.  The technically (and maybe even morally) competent trench fighters given this task realized that the ass-hat asking for it had no real conception of the difficulty of pulling it off, and would never be able to understand such a system, and so they decided to fake it.  Maybe they didn't intend to do so from the start, but that's what it became. They put together an impressive slide deck for briefing the pointy hair boss & friends, meanwhile on the back end they're doing a Bernie Madoff: just enough real data pulled in once in a while by other means to make it look plausible, and big rooms full of cooling equipment and flashing lights in case anyone comes to visit.
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+Paul Tucker - The Guardian's latest releases are still consistent with PRISM just being an implementation of FISA -- in fact, The Guardian themselves even describe it as being authorized under FISA.

What the new slide does show is that PRISM is not based on tapping fiber lines outside the control of the companies in question -- a theory raised by many people.

(The slide describes PRISM as gathering data "directly" from the companies' servers, but I think this wording is just meant in comparison to the indirectness of tapping fiber.  A FISA request -- even if scrutinized by the company before they comply -- is certainly more "direct".)

I like the FISA theory not just because it's consistent but because it's also the least interesting.  That is, it explains everything in a way that doesn't involve anything that anyone should find shocking.
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Bet you never looked at the underside of one of these before.
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I'm the Critter Control Officer around our house.  This one got in yesterday and was running around causing much excitement earlier, but had expired, perhaps due to over exertion, by the time I got home.  The blue panels on the underside are iridescent and quite striking.  I don't know if they appear differently when the animal is still alive and well.
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Great Service: not everything about the entire experience was perfect, but the help I got from the staff was consistently excellent -- beyond expectations. For example, entirely through my own fault I was late for the trailer pickup when my own tow vehicle suddenly became unavailable: the staff showed no impatience, stayed late, and fixed me up with an SUV rental on the spot. A small equipment problem arose during my trip and the service desk routed me to another dealer near Redding who fixed it immediately. I saw no indication of any problems mentioned in other reviews. I will happily use Family RV for rentals again.
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Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
Small with knowledgeable friendly staff. Good selection for its size, particularly of acoustic instruments. The in-house repair service is a great convenience. I've purchased 2 guitars and an ukulele there and will get more.
Public - 3 years ago
reviewed 3 years ago
I shop at all the major hardware/home-fixup places within 5 miles of here, and I'm a regular visitor to this store. The strength of Los Altos True Value is its staff. They do a good job of maximizing the variety of stock in a limited space, and they generally know where everything is, to get you in and out quickly. It's a great place to go when you need some advice, or a few little parts to get something fixed so you can get back to your life.
Public - 3 years ago
reviewed 3 years ago
Aisle after aisle of pseudo-food. All with those ridiculous "club" card phony discounts. This place depresses me. I never go into Safeway when there's an alternative.
Public - 3 years ago
reviewed 3 years ago
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I kind of like this place, but not without reservation, and can see how you might not. There's a good variety of pancakes trending heavily towards the extremely sweet. If you want to really shock your system, get the giant baked apple thing (a dutch baby?) that looks like deep dish candied fruit pizza, and wash it down with lots of coffee. In my mind, this is pretty much what a pancake house is supposed to be. I rarely want to go here, but once in a while it seems to fill some urge. It can get pretty loud with all the sugared-up kids.
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Public - 3 years ago
reviewed 3 years ago
I can't say anything about the food or value. I visited once. We were seated alone in an adjunct dining room. We were brought water and menus then no one came by our table again for 30 minutes. A few times we saw someone walk rapidly past the door, ignoring our waving. We left and had dinner elsewhere. The interior was nice.
Public - 3 years ago
reviewed 3 years ago