Tuesday, July 25, 2017

McG's Synthesis

Unlike Jethro Gibbs, I do believe in coincidence. I also believe that not everything that looks like a coincidence is a coincidence. I suppose I adhere more closely to the Goldfinger Rule of Thumb.

Still, if the little hairs on the back of your neck are standing up, it's prudent to be (at least mentally) prepared for the next step in the Goldfinger progression. Which kinda resembles Gibbs' Rule #36.


In algebra -- and probably in other flavors of occult mathematics -- r is the variable used to represent all numbers.

All numbers. Positive and negative. Odd and even. Rational and irrational. Real and imaginary. Prime and non-prime. It is an infinite set.

It's not the only infinite set. The set of only all positive numbers is entirely contained in r, as is the set of only all negative numbers, and the set of only all even numbers, and so on. r is not only the set of all numbers, it is the set of all sets. It contains every numeric value in the known universe and all the unknown universes.

Does it contain literally everything? No. It does not contain that creepy uncle who's always telling you to pull his finger. It contains every number that can possibly be used to describe him, such as the one defining all the ways he grosses you out -- but it doesn't include the actual ways.

Even infinity has its limits.

Monday, July 24, 2017

History in Perspective

How long has it been since I watched a movie in a theater?

Nancy Pelosi was Shrieker of the House. Nobody had any clue what Obamacare was going to look like. The first George W. Bush "Miss me yet?" billboard had yet to appear. Karl Urban was still "that guy in Lord of the Rings -- Elmer or something like that." Or worse, "that Kiwi country singer who's married to Nicole Kidman."

I'll Second That

Jerry at Commonsense & Wonder links an item on FoxNews.com with a post titled, "May this be the symbol for our future".

The USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship still afloat, will return Sunday to Boston's waters.

Long may she sail.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Things I Learned Today Before Lunch

Some elements of high school algebra that I didn't pick up in high school.

Yippee-Ki-Yay, Moo-Cow Farmer!

Today is the National Day of the Cowboy. Please include cash in your "Happy National Day of the Cowboy" greeting cards.

A cowboy always could use some extra cash.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

What Is a Suburb?

The other day I was fighting to survive a drive through the little town that is currently home to Mustache World Headquarters, and it hit me:

A suburb is a small town where people drive like it's a big city.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

21st Century Problems

A hundred years ago people lost treasured memories in a fire, which also tended to destroy their homes and furnishings, and even claim lives. Those things still happen, but much less often.

These days you're much more likely to lose family photos and copies of correspondence in a hard drive crash or a cloud-sync failure. You still have your home and nobody dies.

Living in the 21st century isn't perfect, but it beats the alternative.

Climate Modeling

What the cartoonist says about machine learning also perfectly illustrates what climate alarmists have done with temperature data and their models. If you back-run the models in an attempt to predict what's happening in actual global temperature data today, they fail miserably -- yet the cartoonist would have us accept the alarmists' claims without question.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Introducing the 13th Doctor: COUSIN OLIVER!

As a rule, people set out on purpose to "make history" either when they're about to be history and don't know it, or they do know it and want to go out with a raised middle finger.

So kindly forgive me if I don't get excited because Doctor Who is going to get the estrogen treatment that boded so well for the recent Ghostbusters remake.

I'm willing to admit that I may prove to be wrong and the experiment won't be a massive failure, but that would be an exception. Most of the time when people pull stunts like this it's an example of why we can't have nice things.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Never Meanin' No Harm

The issue is moral hazard. But first, from the latter link, a disclaimer:

According to research by Dembe and Boden, the term dates back to the 17th century and was widely used by English insurance companies by the late 19th century. Early usage of the term carried negative connotations, implying fraud or immoral behavior (usually on the part of an insured party). Dembe and Boden point out, however, that prominent mathematicians studying decision making in the 18th century used "moral" to mean "subjective", which may cloud the true ethical significance in the term. The concept of moral hazard was the subject of renewed study by economists in the 1960s and then did not imply immoral behavior or fraud. Economists would use this term to describe inefficiencies that can occur when risks are displaced or cannot be fully evaluated, rather than a description of the ethics or morals of the involved parties.

Boldface added. Now for the meat and potatoes, also with boldface added:

In insurance markets, moral hazard occurs when the behavior of the insured party changes in a way that raises costs for the insurer, since the insured party no longer bears the full costs of that behavior. Because individuals no longer bear the cost of medical services, they have an added incentive to ask for pricier and more elaborate medical service, which would otherwise not be necessary. In these instances, individuals have an incentive to over consume, simply because they no longer bear the full cost of medical services.

Two types of behavior can change. One type is the risky behavior itself, resulting in a before the event moral hazard. In this case, insured parties behave in a more risky manner, resulting in more negative consequences that the insurer must pay for. For example, after purchasing automobile insurance, some may tend to be less careful about locking the automobile or choose to drive more, thereby increasing the risk of theft or an accident for the insurer. After purchasing fire insurance, some may tend to be less careful about preventing fires (say, by smoking in bed or neglecting to replace the batteries in fire alarms). A further example has been identified in flood risk management where it is proposed that the possession of insurance undermines efforts to encourage people to integrate flood protection and resilience measures in properties exposed to flooding.

A second type of behavior that may change is the reaction to the negative consequences of risk, once they have occurred and once insurance is provided to cover their costs. This may be called ex post (after the event) moral hazard. In this case, insured parties do not behave in a more risky manner that results in more negative consequences, but they do ask an insurer to pay for more of the negative consequences from risk as insurance coverage increases.

And that's why costs rise, since insurers have to recoup their increased costs by increasing premiums, which inevitably extends to all insured. Insurers also have lawyers that can pressure care providers to conduct additional tests that the providers don't consider necessary, to rule out other, potentially less expensive treatments.

You end up paying not only for the treatments that are undertaken, but also in part for treatments that are not. Even if you don't do any of these "moral hazard" behaviors, others do -- and if enough others do, you may find yourself on the business end of a perverse incentive to do them too.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Facepalm Chronicles, 2

You know how using cloud storage, live-synched to your own computer, sounds like a great way to preserve your data?

If you use Linux and the Google Drive sync utility InSync, not so much.

Now I need to get used to no longer having years and years worth of irreplaceable content. Essentially all that's left is what's here.

I hate to say it, but my data, at least, was safer when I was using Windows, and the sync utility I used wasn't some third-party POS.

Update, Saturday evening: I'm copying my Linux home folder files onto a thumb drive so I can access them if I decide to install another OS on that laptop. I wonder if anybody's selling Windows XP on Ebay?

'Nother update, Sunday morning: I suppose one of the reasons I don't know more about XP's vulnerabilities is that for most of the five years (!!!) it was Microsoft's flagship OS, I was running Windows 2000.

'Nother other update, Monday afternoon: While I contemplate what to do with the laptop, I'm using a Chromebook with touchscreen, that supports the Android app store and therefore a surprisingly wide selection of Android apps (though some that will install won't actually work...). Hey, it was cheaper than a new tablet.

The downside is that while Chrome is the only browser that works suitably well on the Chromebook (I can install Firefox for Android but it isn't designed for a laptop-like environment), its Android counterpart on my phone lacks features I've come to rely on. So I guess I'm a two-browser mustache for now.

'Nother other other update, Wednesday evening: I think this particular Chromebook, with its Android capabilities, is the intermediate (and inexpensive) platform I was looking for between a laptop running a desktop OS, and my smartphone. It therefore makes what desktop OS runs on the laptop less critical, and since I'm unwilling to go back to the half-assed third-party software on Linux I might as well go ahead and put Windows 10 on it.

There are really only a handful of things I find I need a desktop OS for, so it's not as if I'd even be using the laptop all that much.

In fact, I'll wait until I actually need to use a desktop OS before I deal with the laptop again. And that could be a while.

Updates out the effin' wazoo, Saturday evening: I went ahead and got Windows 10 and installed it. It's a lot less of a pain in the ass than I remembered. Of course, I've stopped expecting much of any of my computers since the last time I ditched Windows, which may help.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Soon You'll Bill Insurance for Your Gas and Electricity

As if it weren't bad enough we're billing insurance for routine doctor visits and prescription drugs, today I saw TV ads for Car Shield and Home Warranty of America.

These outfits offer to cover minor auto and home repairs, respectively, not covered by actual auto or homeowners' insurance. It's not only a bad deal for the customers, who inevitably end up paying more for the coverage than they would pay out of pocket for whatever repairs they may actually need, but as the evolution of medical coverage has played out, it will be a bad deal for everyone else as the rise of third-party payer programs for these kinds of repairs makes costs go up.

And when costs go up, more and more people will buy these kinds of policies, and the momentum for higher costs will increase.

And then? Single-payer.

You think I sound like a crank.

You should know better than that.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Secret #1: Never Check "Yes"

It came in a large-ish envelope with those red-and-blue hashes around the edge, like on an actual international-mail envelope. But the postmark was domestic.

Right away the letter started in with the flattery. The mustache does not abide flattery. It said,

McG, please forgive us, but we have taken a closer look at your profile. It turns out you're even more special than any of us imagined!

I'd like to know how they got their hands on my bank balance -- I mean, profile.

Notice: this is not a mass mailing; this letter came to you by first-class mail, not by third-class bulk mail.

The going rate for first-class mail, according to the U.S. Postal Service, is 49¢ -- but the postage stamped on the envelope was only 40¢. You don't get that kind of discount unless you're sending large quantities of first-class mail. Not to mention the fact this wad of ... paper can't possibly have come in at only one ounce.

McG, we are the rich, the famous, the powerful -- and the crème de la crème of society; famous sports and movie stars, musicians, billionaires, businessmen, intellectuals, and scientists.

Do tell. Nice use of the Oxford comma -- you've got that going for you at least.

I wish I could tell you who I am. But under advice from my counsel, I cannot reveal my full name.

So you're pleading the Fifth?

I don't mean to brag, but I'm one of the most famous people in the world. If you own a TV, listen to the radio, browse the internet

...look at the flyers on the post office wall...

there's barely a day that goes by that I'm not mentioned in a news story.

Fools' names and fools' faces are often seen in public places.

The Society has uncovered the World's most powerful secrets. Most people will never know them. We are only willing to share them with our members.

Every successful person throughout history knew the secrets. And that's why they were successful, rich, happy, healthy, and powerful. It's a blueprint for your success. And I will send the secrets to you FREE of charge. Why?

Because I am nominating you for membership into the Society.

My guru, Groucho Marx, will present my answer.

You'll note that this letter is marked "FOR YOU ONLY". It is meant to be read by you and you alone, McG. Its contents are TOP SECRET and contain sensitive information which cannot be shared by anyone except the recipient.

These words are intended for your eyes only. They are not to be shared with anyone else.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Magnetic Pog vs. Excessive Beer Foam

Think that sounds like the next Sharknado? I do.

But what it really is, is this:

They're apparently going to be using it at University of Wyoming football games...

Footnote: Pog