Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11 is not for muslim whining

A 9/11 muslim whine fest offended me today. It seems that Islam has an image problem in the US. Boo hoo. Today was not the day to publish that. It's tone deaf and likely to make american opinion of muslims worse. It's sort of a japanese journalist like picking December 7th to discuss anti-japanese sentiment, a problem that's only ever potentially there because the japanese are generally not dumb enough to do such a thing. 

In any case, if you want to measure hate over time, you're best bet isn't surveys but crime reports. Anti-religious hate crimes have been broken out and reported for years and we have good data for 1996-2012. Here are the trend lines for all the sub-groups. 

Hate is up for catholic, atheist, and multi-religious categories. Everybody else is flat to down. As always, anti-jewish hate crimes predominate the numbers but they've got the best trend line of the bunch so maybe in a few decades the jews won't be number one anymore. I'm sure they're looking forward to it. 

The muslim trend line is generally flat except for a 9/11 related, one year bump (481 incidents). Most of that went away but the baseline moved up from around 30 incidents a year to perhaps 140 give or take with arguably a slight down trend between 2002 and 2012. This is not the picture of growing anti-muslim persecution the article hints at with its talk of a recent bias crime spike. 

9/11 is not the time for a story hook of anti-muslim bias that isn't even accurate. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Political science with scientific rigor? Hah!

Fred Schwarz writes in NRO's The Corner that The American Political Science Association (APSA) is pretending that what it is doing is "science applied to politics". This sort of thing always ruffles my feathers because it's clearly just going through the scientific motions without actually bothering to establish the required base of knowledge that any scientific examination would require.  Here's the comment I left there. 
Statistical rigor? These are pretensions. We are missing some of the very basic prerequisites to achieve any sort of scientific examination of the american political scene. 
Try to find:
1. A comprehensive list of all governments in the US (according to the contradictory definitions of our collective 51 sovereign entities that can, and do, define them).
2. The jurisdictional bounds of all governments
3. A list of what each government does
4. A comprehensive list of the officeholders for all governments
You cannot write, scientifically, about who is doing government, much less politics, what they are doing, and where they are doing it with any sort of numerical precision without these prerequisites, and a number of other basics besides. For instance any comprehensive scientific fiscal analysis would require a meta chart of accounts so you could do apples to apples fiscal comparisons across governments. We can't do that either. 
There are practical consequences for this lack of scientific rigor prerequisites. People get arrested for accidentally driving into a gun hostile jurisdiction. There's no app for that but with items 1, 2, and some simple survey work, one could be made. A police militarization app could be similarly constructed. The list of practical improvements possible is rather long. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nanotube capacitors starting to enter the market

In 2006, MIT wrote up the invention of carbon nanotube improved capacitors, saying that if all goes well, the technology should enter the market within five to ten years time. I love reading about potentially disruptive technologies in materials and low level, common components. They really are the hope for us to get enough breathing room to fix the massive financial mess we're all busy digging ourselves into across the first world. But there's a long distance between technology in the lab and technology for sale in real products that make a difference so I filed it in my "check every couple of years" mental category and moved on. I should have checked more often.

The technology is starting to enter the market now, shipping first products in spring of 2013 and it's a major game changer for the economy, one that most people haven't mapped out the implications of yet. The technology was spun out of MIT into FastCAP Systems and they are now offering product to, of all things, the oil and gas drilling field, allowing for the elimination of batteries entirely in the advanced technology of measuring while drilling (MWD) and logging while drilling (LWD) or a doubling of system lifetime when used in conjunction with batteries. These "extreme environment ultracapacitors" are safer than their competition, lithium batteries, as they simply don't explode. Their shipping technology operating temperatures are rated to 150C, which is quite impressive.

But conventional oil and gas drilling is a means to an end for FastCAP as their aim is to reduce drilling expenses and increase drill capacity to viably tap geothermal energy as their technology has been recently validated at Sandia National Labs in use at 200C and the company seems to be going for 250C as a next step. This translates out to MWD/LWD operations out to 8km depths and the ability to extend modern techniques of horizontal drilling to greater depths than before.

All of a sudden, widespread geothermal energy doesn't look as impractical as it did yesterday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ni Hao Y'All

I've been remarking for a couple of years that the flow of jobs will reverse and poor areas in the US will start to see work moving from China. What I had in mind was returning US companies. But there seems to be an unexpected bonus. The Chinese are coming.

I should have seen it from the first. If it's cheaper for a US company to build something in the US, it's going to be just as advantageous for China's private businesses to do the same. So why not expand abroad and reduce their political risk while improving their profitability?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fixing the data loss loophole

The US Congress could, with a pretty small outlay of money, set up a web portal with an API that would allow all executive branches to report data losses within a few days of when they happened. And then we should require that they report within 5 days. We could call it Lois' law. 

Most recently this would have had the effect of chopping two years off the timeline of the IRS scandal and perhaps made it a live issue for the 2012 campaign. Big data analytics might also be deployed on this database to find "data loss hot spots" and better direct where to deploy investigative efforts. The bonus, a lot of hard drives are over $100 dollars so just destroying one is a crime sporting a ten year prison term. You have a lot of leverage at that point to play 'make a deal' in order to get at the underlying politically motivated crimes. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bitcoin as US currency warfare

Still noodling around with bitcoin and learning more about the phenomenon. One of the puzzlers that a number of people are scratching their head about is the cautious support that bitcoin seems to be getting in the US. Why would an inherently deflationary currency attract support from a government that seems so strongly committed to inflating its currency into a creeping devaluation. 

The answer came in an hour long talk with Andreas Antonopoulos that was up on youtube. He forthrightly predicted that bitcoin was eroding all currencies but that the dollar would be the last to fall. In the 'devil take the hindmost' currency world we inhabit, that makes bitcoin an ally of the Fed for now. 

Things do seem to be playing out that way as China subsequently made moves against bitcoin even as it also made moves to work with Russia to supplant the dollar. 

How big is bitcoin? Saturday June 21, 2014

For this post all values are rounded.

As of today bitcoin has created
12,922,000 coins in circulation

At time of writing 1 bitcoin was $594 USD

This puts the total value of the coins at $7.7 billion USD and is roughly equivalent to what the federal reserve calls M0. For USD M0 is $3.9 trillion at present.

If Bitcoin were an economy, it would be the 149th largest in the world slightly larger than Montenegro and slightly smaller than Mauritania.