• PierceNichols commented on the blog post Whither Iraq? What’s Happening Had to Happen

    2014-06-13 11:23:48View | Delete

    I agree that the fracturing is a policy choice, but it’s not one that has ever been in the hands of the US. My suspicion is that what we are seeing now is similar in form, if not details, to what would have happened if Saddam had died of natural causes.

    The details of that particular contra-factual are open to debate, but the idea that Hussein’s two violent idiot sons or anyone else he allowed to retain any sort of power under him could have kept Iraq together is obviously false.

  • I started out thinking that declining interest rates were one likely cause of the shift in emphasis over the period of the top chart. So I went and looked into the real rates of return (i.e. inflation adjusted) on high quality corporate bonds (i.e Baa or better) from the 1950s until now.

    I was honestly surprised at the results. Over most of the period from 1952 until the stagflation era, real returns were largely in the range of 0-4%. Current real rates of return on high-grade bonds largely lie within the lower third or so of that historical range.

    See http://books.google.com/books?id=0CQhNexSo8YC&lpg=PA437&ots=15BzGW0Q8b&dq=blue%20chip%20corporate%20bond%20rates%201955&pg=PA437#v=onepage&q=blue%20chip%20corporate%20bond%20rates%201955&f=false

    And that means that the problems are driven almost entirely by long-term underfunding and political chicanery.

  • PierceNichols commented on the diary post We’ll Just Ignore What Russia-China Gas Deal Means? Multipolarity Is Here! by fairleft.

    2014-05-22 11:32:59View | Delete

    Anyone who thinks this is the start of a new Russia-China alliance hasn’t done the most basic arithmetic on the deal. What actually happened here is that the Chinese gov’t robbed Putin like a drunken tourist. The exact price that Russia is charging is not public, but we know the total size of the deal, [...]

  • PierceNichols commented on the blog post Mystery: Bank Of Utah Plane Lands In Iran

    2014-04-18 11:16:41View | Delete

    The fact that a US-registered aircraft was sitting on the ramp in Tehran with its registration numbers in full view to every passerby is a good sign that this flight was entirely legal. It turns out US citizens can get State Department permission to go to Iran and even spend some money there.

    Most likely conclusion is that the US is conducting unofficial diplomacy with Iran. That is most probably for the good. Such diplomacy is how flashpoints get turned into talking points at diplomatic meetings.

  • PierceNichols commented on the blog post Mystery: Bank Of Utah Plane Lands In Iran

    2014-04-18 11:10:19View | Delete

    The Bank of Utah is in the business of aircraft finance and operation of aircraft trusts. That is a perfectly legal and above board line of business, and it naturally results them in being the registered owner of a huge number of airplanes. For comparison, it’s almost twice the number of aircraft owned by United Airlines. Do you do any research at all before jerking your knee?

  • PierceNichols commented on the blog post Mystery: Bank Of Utah Plane Lands In Iran

    2014-04-18 11:04:46View | Delete

    Not really unusual. The reporter who snapped it likely knows enough about airplanes to know that the ‘N604EP’ painted on the engine nacelle indicates the aircraft is registered in the US. That is, needless to say, a highly unusual thing to see on the ramp in Tehran. Most reporters carry cameras on them, and would have the presence of mind to snap a picture of something that out of the ordinary.

  • PierceNichols commented on the diary post Shattering the myths proffered by waxy prohibitionists about hash oil by patrick devlin.

    2014-03-03 00:22:37View | Delete

    Butane extraction? Clearly a trick for the dimmer bulbs. Serious producers use supercritical CO2 (NB: I have a friend who makes systems for doing this) and then fractionally distill it to separate out the different cannibanoids. I am told this allows you tailor the effects of the drug to achieve exactly the sort of high [...]

  • PierceNichols commented on the diary post Why Doesn’t Gun Violence Lead to a Demand for Bulletproof Clothes? by spocko.

    2013-11-10 21:30:11View | Delete

    The overwhelming majority (nearly two thirds) of gunshot deaths in the US are either suicides or accidents. About 11-12,000 people die in the US each year as a result of being deliberately shot by another person. Unless you are personally engaged in organized crime or you live in one of the small number of urban [...]

  • PierceNichols commented on the diary post Steel Interstate Revolution by BruceMcF.

    2013-10-28 15:00:22View | Delete

    You could recover that much electric capacity (and more!) just by replacing all the incandescent bulbs with LEDs.

  • PierceNichols commented on the diary post Steel Interstate Revolution by BruceMcF.

    2013-10-28 14:49:03View | Delete

    Your understanding of thermodynamics is somewhat deficient. The most important thing to note is that when people quote efficiency numbers for heat engines, they’re often talking about the percentage of the Carnot efficiency that’s available as output, not the percentage of the total energy that’s available as output. You’ve clearly confused the two — in [...]

  • PierceNichols commented on the diary post Is Your Doctor Opposed To Peeing In A Cup? Check The List by Consumer Watchdog.

    2013-09-25 07:51:24View | Delete

    What a vile and disgusting idea. We should be rolling back mandatory drug testing and related drug war hysteria, not increasing it. This is nothing but another attempt by drug testing companies to get their business model written in to law.

  • PierceNichols commented on the diary post Shot Through the Heart: Why Guns Need to Go by Jane Stillwater.

    2013-09-17 14:31:50View | Delete

    The rate of all violent crime in the US is in steep long-term decline and has been for the last two decades. The murder rate in particular has dropped to a level last seen in 1906. There’s just not any epidemic of violence that requires banning guns. Further, the suggestion that guns kill as many [...]

  • PierceNichols commented on the blog post Come Saturday Morning: Yup, Hyperloop’s a Joke

    2013-08-19 07:36:26View | Delete

    The chatter about capacity is deeply silly, because Hyperloop would have more than sufficient capacity to serve the existing market for high speed travel between SF and LA.

    Currently, there’s one high speed travel mode between SF & LA: air travel. The ticket price is in the neighborhood of $80 each way (coincidentally, the predicted ticket price for HSR), and it would be unreasonable to assume that Hyperloop will come in much off of that number (if it ever gets built). And we know how big the market for that is right now — somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-7 million passengers per year. In 2009, the last year for which I can find reliable figures, it was 6.3M. Even assuming robust growth, a single Hyperloop tube pair could handle that traffic load. Obviously air travel isn’t going anywhere, so it would share the passenger traffic with aircraft.

  • PierceNichols commented on the diary post More Information Ammunition Against Monsanto (& All GM Seeds and Foods) by elisemattu.

    2013-05-28 19:47:56View | Delete

    How about you go back and respond to the actual points in the linked articles, and we can go from there? The study is statistical trash at best, and the fact that the authors went to extreme lengths to prevent any skeptical pre-publication review is evidence they knew it. You also failed to address the [...]

  • PierceNichols commented on the diary post More Information Ammunition Against Monsanto (& All GM Seeds and Foods) by elisemattu.

    2013-05-28 18:48:31View | Delete

    The research you refer to at the University of Caen was so atrocious as to suggest willful fraud. See the following for detailed demolitions of the methodology and conclusions on the study: http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-gm-corn-rat-study/ http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/09/24/bad-science-on-gmos-it-reminds-me-of-the-antivaccine-movement/ Beyond that, one of the authors, Dr Joël Spiroux de Vendomois, is a professional con artist who specializes in preying on [...]

  • PierceNichols commented on the blog post Logic goes down in a hail of gunfire

    2013-05-02 07:56:00View | Delete

    I agree — the various terrorist watch lists are both oppressive and pointless. We should be working to narrow their scope and eliminate them, not apply them to yet another area.

  • PierceNichols commented on the blog post Logic goes down in a hail of gunfire

    2013-05-02 07:55:03View | Delete

    I suspect that’s most likely true.

    MA has among the strictest gun laws in the nation (see http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/education/hed/hed_gun_laws.htm for details). I suspect that’s the reason the Tsarnaev brothers committed a bombing rather than a mass shooting.

  • You have yet to enumerate any good reasons, either legally or in the context of the FBI’s many other priorities.

  • The FBI doesn’t have infinite resources. Do you think they have the resources to tail every last person who’s attracted the enmity of an authoritarian regime somewhere? Do you think they should spend their resources on that rather than on investigating crimes that certainly have occurred? Do you really want a national criminal investigative agency with those kind of resources and that kind of reach?

    Also, placing tracking devices on someone’s car requires a warrant (per recent SCotUS rulings), and that requires probable cause. What’s the probable cause on either of the Tsarnaev brothers prior to Apr 15?

    And if they had known he bought fireworks… they could have told the state patrol he bought some fireworks illegal to possess in MA. Big deal, that’s a misdemeanor that almost everyone I know who grew up in MA committed at least once (myself included). It’s about as normal a crime for his age and location as speeding or smoking pot.

  • Assuming your information is 100% true, all he did was discuss violent jihad in general terms. That is not a crime, nor should it be. It isn’t even evidence, in and of itself, of intent to commit a crime. Talking about how you’d like to kill some people in the abstract is a million miles from actually killing people.

    The closest thing to direct evidence I have seen that either of the Tsarnaev brothers committed a crime prior to Apr 15 is this report from the NYDN (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/tamerlan-bought-bombs-article-1.1325504) of Tamerlan buying fireworks on Feb 6. That would count as an overt act in the furtherance of a conspiracy, and therefore a crime. But you’d never detect without surveillance pervasive enough to know every conversation that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had. Even people on house arrest aren’t subjected to that level of panopticon surveillance.

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