January 8, 2012 archive

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Diva Delivery & Castle High, Episodes 17 & 18, Season 2

Economists really ARE greedy assholes

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Via Felix Salmon there is this story about how Economists are upset that restaurant reservations might not be commanding Maximum Market Value!

My feeling is that the restaurant is the smart one, while the economists are being naive.

For one thing, real people don’t think in terms of opportunity cost – especially not when they’re the lucky winners of a restaurant-reservations lottery. Dan Ariely did research on this at Duke University: he found that once Duke students won the lottery giving them the opportunity to buy sought-after tickets to the university’s basketball game, they valued those tickets at ten times more than the students who lost the lottery.

What’s really going on here, I think, is that the vast majority of people who get tickets hold on to them, go to the restaurant, and eat a wonderful meal for which they paid a reasonable sum. And then there’s a tiny number of people who get tickets, and either discover they can’t use them for some reason, or decide that they’re going to try to flip them for profit.

The most important thing in being a restaurateur of a high-end establishment is exceeding expectations; if you auction off tickets, then the price of tickets will naturally gravitate to and possibly past the point at which you can’t do that any longer. That’s why Next is right to worry about “our sense of value for the meal” – because the chances are that their sense is going to be your sense too. If they think a meal isn’t worth more than say $200, and they start selling tickets to that meal at $400 apiece, then they’re setting their customers up for disappointment; I can’t imagine Achatz would ever want that.

Do the handful of people who currently buy tickets for $500 or $3,000 walk away disappointed? Maybe not: there’s a good chance those people aren’t particularly price-sensitive. But when you move away from those people and use the market to set prices for all your customers, big dangers lurk. As Alan Vanneman says, markets are largely foreign to the human imagination. And since restaurant-goers are human, we don’t want to upset them with market mechanisms if doing so is unnecessary.

Name That Moon For 2012

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Mark the dates on your calendar, grab your favorite beverage and a friend or two and go outside, look up and breath.

How 2012’s Full Moons Got Their Strange Names

The start of 2012 brings with it a new year of skywatching, and lunar enthusiasts are gearing up for a stunning lineup of full moons. But, where does the tradition of full moon names come from?

Full moon names date back to Native Americans of a few hundred years ago, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. To keep track of the changing seasons, these tribes gave distinctive names to each recurring full moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred.

  • Jan. 9, 2:30 a.m. EST — Full Wolf Moon, Old Moon
  • Feb. 7, 4:54 p.m. EST — Full Snow Moon or Full Hunger Moon
  • Mar. 8, 4:39 a.m. EST — Full Worm Moon, also known as the Full Crow Moon, Full Crust Moon of the Full Sap Moon
  • Apr. 6, 10:21 a.m. EDT — Full Pink Moon. Other names for this month’s moon were the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Full Fish Moon
  • May 5, 11:35 p.m. EDT — Full Flower Moon, Full Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon
  • Jun. 4, 7:12 a.m. EDT — Full Strawberry Moon or the Rose Moon. A partial eclipse of the moon will be visible chiefly favoring those living around the Pacific Rim. Observers in Japan and Australia
  • Jul. 3, 2:52 p.m. EDT —Full Buck Moon, Full Thunder Moon or the Full Hay Moon.
  • Aug. 1, 11:27 p.m. EDT –Full Sturgeon Moon or Full Red Moon because when the moon rises, it appears reddish through sultry haze.
  • Aug. 31, 9:58 a.m. EDT –Full Corn Moon.  This is the second time the moon turns full in a calendar month, so it is also popularly known as a “Blue Moon.”
  • Sep. 29, 11:19 p.m. EDT –Full Harvest Moon. raditionally, this designation goes to the full moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal (Fall) Equinox.
  • Oct. 29, 3:49 a.m. EDT – Full Hunter’s Moon.
  • Nov. 28, 9:46 a.m. EST –Full Beaver Moon.
  • Dec. 28, 5:21 a.m. EST — Full Cold Moon.
  • h/t Hecate

    Big Profits For Big Pharma

    Cross posted from The Stars hollow Gazette

    From 2000 to 2009, Pharmaceutical companies reaped $690 billion in mergers and only invested 10% of that on research to find cures for 90% of the world’s diseases. The Unites States rank #1 in the amount that is spent on health care but only #37 when it comes to the quality of that care.

    Author and medical ethicist, Harriet A. Washington’s recent book “Deadly Monopolies”, delves into the corporate takeover of the medical industry that is affecting the healthcare system and the future of medicine. The book also examines the role of medical patents in slowing U.S. research and inflate drug costs. Ms. Washington joined Dylan Ratigan and his panel to discuss “Big Pharma” and big profits.

    Deadly Monopolies

    You can read an adapted exert from “Deadly Monopolies” here

    One of the diseases and its cure that it touched upon in this discussion is Human African trypanosomiasis HAT, or sleeping sickness. Second stage sleeping sickness is treated with eflornithine, which is given in 4 intravenous infusions daily for 14 days.

    A little side story of Eflornithine and the fight that WHO and an NGO waged to get it produced. The drug was originally developed as a cancer treatment by Merrell Dow Research Institute in the late ’70’s. It wasn’t very effective as a cancer treatment but was found to reduce hair growth and, inadvertently, very a effective treatment for HAT. Eventually, it was developed and marketed as a prescription cream, Vaniqa, to treat women with excessive facial hair by the Gillette company.

    The drug was registered for the treatment of gambiense HAT in 1990. However, in 1995 Aventis (now Sanofi-Aventis) stopped producing the drug, whose main market was African countries, because it didn’t make a profit. Production for the drug requires a separate facility because the process is very corrosive.

    In 2001, Aventis (now Sanofi-Aventis) and the WHO formed a five-year partnership, during which more than 320,000 vials of pentamidine, over 420,000 vials of melarsoprol, and over 200,000 bottles of eflornithine were produced by Sanofi-Aventis, to be given to the WHO and distributed by the association Médecins Sans Frontières in countries where the sleeping sickness is endemic.

    According to Médecins Sans Frontières, this only happened after “years of international pressure”, and coinciding with the period when media attention was generated because of the launch of the eflornithine-based product, Vaniqa, geared to prevention of facial-hair in women), while its life-saving formulation was not being produced.

    From 2001, when production was restarted, through 2006, 14 million diagnoses were made. This greatly contributed to stemming the spread of sleeping sickness, and to saving nearly 110,000 lives. This changed the epidemiological profile of the disease, meaning that eliminating it altogether can now be envisaged.  

    On This Day In History January 8

    Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

    This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

    Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

    January 8 is the eighth day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 357 days remaining until the end of the year (358 in leap years).

    On this day in 1877, Crazy Horse and his warriors–outnumbered, low on ammunition and forced to use outdated weapons to defend themselves–fight their final losing battle against the U.S. Cavalry in Montana.

    Six months earlier, in the Battle of Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse and his ally, Chief Sitting Bull, led their combined forces of Sioux and Cheyenne to a stunning victory over Lieutenant Colonel George Custer (1839-76) and his men. The Indians were resisting the U.S. government’s efforts to force them back to their reservations. After Custer and over 200 of his soldiers were killed in the conflict, later dubbed “Custer’s Last Stand,” the American public wanted revenge. As a result, the U.S. Army launched a winter campaign in 1876-77, led by General Nelson Miles (1839-1925), against the remaining hostile Indians on the Northern Plains.

    On January 8, 1877, General Miles found Crazy Horse’s camp along Montana’s Tongue River. U.S. soldiers opened fire with their big wagon-mounted guns, driving the Indians from their warm tents out into a raging blizzard. Crazy Horse and his warriors managed to regroup on a ridge and return fire, but most of their ammunition was gone, and they were reduced to fighting with bows and arrows. They managed to hold off the soldiers long enough for the women and children to escape under cover of the blinding blizzard before they turned to follow them.

    Though he had escaped decisive defeat, Crazy Horse realized that Miles and his well-equipped cavalry troops would eventually hunt down and destroy his cold, hungry followers. On May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse led approximately 1,100 Indians to the Red Cloud reservation near Nebraska’s Fort Robinson and surrendered. Five months later, a guard fatally stabbed him after he allegedly resisted imprisonment by Indian policemen

    Six In The Morning

    On Sunday

    Blacks in New Orleans cry foul over French Quarter curfew

    The City Council says stricter rules are meant to protect kids, but critics accuse members of wanting to keep low-income blacks out of sight of tourists.

    By Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times

    Reporting from Atlanta– From a distance, it seemed like common sense: an ordinance meant to keep children away from an open-air night-life zone with more than 350 places to buy booze, an abundance of strip joints and a 300-year-old reputation for iniquity.

    But last week, as the New Orleans City Council approved a strict curfew for youths 16 and younger in the French Quarter, it sparked an incendiary debate that laid bare some of the tensions over race and police priorities that the Louisiana city – which suffers from the nation’s highest per capita murder rate – is struggling to resolve as it navigates its post-Hurricane Katrina future.

    Sunday’s Headlines:

    Syria unrest: Arab League to discuss observer mission

    Cambodia’s lost temple, reclaimed from the jungle after 800 years

    Burma’s opposition prepares for the unexpected after Aung San Suu Kyi agrees to contest elections

    Men of steel revive the heart of Gotham

    ANC centenary draws praise from African leaders

    Booman wants war with Iran.


    Eh, ragazzo, I didn’t want to go this way, but we are at war.  Stupid fucking Hobbit.  Stupid fucking man.  

    BooMan is pushing the long-ago debunked IAEA report and wishes that the international community squeezes Iran like a balloon to enact regime change.  

    And he thinks I’m the moron.  Needless to say, I think such manifest nonsense is crazier than a shithouse rat dining on Dick Cheney’s rotting corpse.  Are you listening, driftglass?  We haven’t even finished our latest war crimes that broke us to pieces.  Suffice it to say, if we attack Iran, I rely upon the noble Persians to shove the Fifth Fleet up our collective ass, for the sake of justice.

    Ideological insanity.

    I want to touch on the problem of ideological insanity.  It strikes me as a Necker cube problem, wherein people lose their ability to “flip” between ambiguous interpretations of reality.

    Allow a brief digression.

    Jeff Hawkins, who invented the palm pilot, has an interesting theory of cortical function, as good as any, better even.  Based on the virtual uniformity of structure of the large dinner napkin we call neocortex, as originally noted by Mountcastle, he suggests that the invariable function of the six-layered neocortex is to correlate data, the higher the layer, the higher the level of correlation; such that low-level properties (lines, angles, colors) are correlated in the lowest parts of the hierarchy, whereas high-level concepts (war, peace) are correlated in the highest levels of the large dinner napkin.  To quote Hebb, neurons that fire together wire together, and the cerebral cortex is nothing but a massive hierarchical multivariate analysis.

    Yes? So good, so far.

    The brain’s three parts (I hold with the “four-parts” people, spare parts excluded) can be sub-divided as far as you want to go, but at Swanson’s considerable eyeblink, it goes “cortex, cerebral nuclei, brainstem,” which suffices for our discussion.  

    Within the brainstem are two major parts: the incoming and outgoing processes: sensory inflow (thalamus) and motor outflow (hypothalamus), what you see, what you do; low-level stuff, but stuff that should not be dismissed.

    The high-level “CEO” (how I hate that acronym) in the cortex relies on incoming data.  He is only as good as his data.  But what happens over time, learning, development, is that the high-level correlations, i.e., belief-systems, come to dominate sensory input; that is, expectations come to rule, even above incoming facts. The large dinner napkin begins to instruct and bias sensory input.  Quite literally, cortical output dominates sensory input, over time.  To put it simply, religion dominates facts, the ‘cerebral cortex coerces sensory input, in the same way Dick Cheney coerced prisoners at black sites (albeit via the triple-descending outflow of cortex).

    Now that is fucked up, but that is the way that it is because it is that way.

    Late Night Karaoke