16 September 2011

Digest: 16 Sep 2011

The Atlantic | Derek Thompson | How Hollywood Accounting Can Make a $450 Million Movie 'Unprofitable'
Most corporations try to make a profit by limiting costs. Movies corporations manage to record a loss by maximizing costs.
Back in undergrad I heard a talk in one of my film classes by a dual film and accounting major about these bookkeeping shenanigans. It was the first, and I suspect only, time I have been fascinated while learning about accounting.

Ars Technica | Timothy B. Lee | Judge worries recording police will lead to excessive "snooping around"

More evidence of Posner being a blockheaded fool about recording police:
[Posner] was particularly worried that allowing recording would impact police work. "I'm always suspicious when the civil liberties people start telling the police how to do their business," he said. He speculated that gangs would love the ACLU's argument because recordings would make it easier to discover and retaliate against informants.
I want a time machine so I can go tell James Madison to just leave out the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. After all Richard Posner, in all his boundless judicial wisdom, is "suspicious when the civil liberties people start telling the police how to do their business." The whole god-damned point of a constitution is to allow The People to tell The Government how they may do their jobs!

I do not have the patience to read any more about this.

Cafe Hayek | Don Boudreaux | The State Isn’t Us
[Eugene] Robinson is appalled by Paul, accusing him of being part of an “immoral” movement that would interpret the Constitution’s Preamble to read “We the unconnected individuals who couldn’t care less about one another...”

It’s a mistake, however, to classify coerced ‘giving’ as “compassion,” and downright bizarre to accuse those of us who would rely more upon genuine compassion – evidenced by people giving from the goodness of their hearts rather than from a desire to avoid imprisonment – as endorsing a society without compassion.
Taxing people to pay for social programs is compassionate in the same way sending other men to war is courageous.
To the extent that government programs such as Medicare and Social Security were enacted, and survive, because the beneficiaries of these programs support them, then even on Eugene Robinson’s own premises they cannot be said to reflect “compassion.” Quite the opposite. To that extent these programs reflect greed: give me what you have because I want it and I’m willing to hire people with jail cells and guns to take from you what I want for myself.
Isn't Eugene Robinson on my People Never to Trust list? If not, he is now.

Coyote Blog | Warren Meyer | Owning Solyndra

Meyer planes Kevin Drum, but the reason the thing I want to excerpt is this aside:
I have written before about how much expertise about business tends to be claimed by liberal journalists and places like Think Progress. I had a funny thought trying to imagine the Think Progress business school and what it would teach. Might be a parody I need to write sometime.
That's something I really want to see. It brings to mind Radley Balko's "Protest Proof Grocery Store."

Think Progress | Matt Yglesias | Stanford’s ‘Engineering Everywhere’

(a) This Standford program sounds great

(b) This is very true:
But one way or another, the current paradigm, where it’s cheaper and easier than ever to learn something but harder and more expensive than ever to get a degree, isn’t going to persist.
(c) What does this mean?
[Engineering Everywhere, MIT Open Courseware, etc.] doesn’t really function as education.
Emphasis his. I mean this non-snarkily: what does this mean? How does Yglesias define education if this isn't it? To me these things help me acquire new knowledge or skills, therefore they are education.

MIT 6.893 Philosophy and Theoretical Computer Science

MIT 6.089 Great Ideas in Theoretical Computer Science

Speaking of which, one of my lab mates just pointed out these two courses to me. He had just heard of Bostrom's Simulation Argument and was fascinated.

Once I get passed my dissertation proposal I think I'm going to work through some of these courses. My statistics needs work, and my numerical methods is almost non-existent. Even if I don't learn that material well, I will at least learn what there is to learn.

Reason: Hit & Run | Jacob Sullum | How Can You Believe in the American Dream Anymore When People Have to Pay Cash for Their Vacation Condos?

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