On Allowance Reduced, 30-Year-Old Turns Patricidal

The Week article does not seem to allow comments, so I will post it here instead. I always love to see references to Paul Piff's research that proves the rich are unscrupulous. It's even better when an article references Piff without linking to the original research. So I tracked down the original study at http://www.pnas.org/content/109/11/4086.full.pdf+html . (BTW, never trust an article quoting research but does not supply a link to the original paper.) Re the research that shows the rich are more aggressive drivers, I noticed that Piff's study did not control for the speed of approaching car. The pedestrian crossed 15 meters in front of the car. Whether the car stops may be a function of whether the driver is a jerk, but it is certainly also a function of how fast the car is traveling. Googling “car stopping distance” led me to http://www.cyberphysics.co.uk/topics/forces/stopping_distance.htm . (This is the first result and I didn’t cherry pick.) As it turns out, to be able to stop at 15 meters, you have to be traveling at around 22 MPH. 22 MPH? Who drives that slowly? No wonder even 30% of the 2nd and 3rd quintile cars did not stop. If you assume that the more expensive cars tend to be heavier or to be driven at a higher speed, it is likely that the drivers of the expensive cars just could not stop in time, and it was safer to blow by the pedestrian. Then The Week article mentions another Piff study as the author's "favorite". Well I have to check THAT out! Turns out, the study is of a rigged game that shows (according to The Week author) the rich is more likely to cheat in order to win. Well, you would THINK that's what the research shows, IF YOU NEVER BOTHERED TO READ THE ORIGINAL RESEARCH. It turns out, the study shows that social class is NOT a predictor of likelihood to cheat. Greed is. (From the original research: "When social class and attitudes toward greed were entered into a linear-regression model predicting cheating behavior, social class was no longer a significant predictor... whereas attitudes toward greed significantly predicted cheating.") But, hey, the author just ignores the original research (which were not terribly well designed to start with) and injects his own bias into the article.

Posted on January 6, 2015 at 3:38 pm 0

On The Trouble With the Simple Solution to Homelessness

@nell http://www.nytimes.com/1984/10/30/science/how-release-of-mental-patients-began.html

Posted on November 13, 2014 at 3:19 am 0

On Radio Recaps, Startup Ep 7: "Kids, Work, Kids, Work. There's Nothing in the Middle"

This is a few years old, but for venture-backed startups, * 70% fail and the inventors lose all their money, * 20% the investors break even, * 10% the investors hit the jackpot. Now, this is old data for classic tech startups where the VC buy in is maybe $5M. The failure rate is much higher for seed or angel-backed startups. Small investor-backed startups will be a blood bath. All that said, I think anyone should be allowed to invest in startups. I just don't know why they would want to.

Posted on November 12, 2014 at 9:25 pm 0

On Obamacare Winners and Losers

Anthem Blue Cross discontinued our old insurance plan, so we had to shop for a plan under the new regime. None of the new plans allowed us to keep our GP, my wife's OB/Gyn, and my son's pediatrician. Only 1 plan at near the price point of our old plan will let us keep 2 of the 3. Loser: My son, who had to switch to a new pediatrician. Loser: My wife, as it turns out, also had to find a new OB/Gyn. We initially thought her doctor would accept the new plan, but we were misinformed. Loser: My family, since our deductible went from $1000 to $2500.

Posted on October 30, 2014 at 4:26 pm 0

On How A Person With a Five-Figure Income Buys an Apartment in New York City

@pengu1n @pengu1n "I do wonder, as an honest-to-goodness serious question: Is this site actually targeted toward 20-something New Yorkers" Well, with $50k income and 20% down, you can afford a mortgage of $375k. With $375k, you can buy the median house everywhere in the USA except CA, HI, and NY. (Boston's median house clocks in at $375.9k.) These kinds of articles pretty much has to be written by someone trying to buy in NY or CA. It's funny how this site never talks about what a great time this is to buy a house because of the low mortgage rate. When I bought my first house in 1990, the average mortgage interest rate was 10%. That means the same $375k house would have a monthly mortgage payment of almost $3k, and you'd need an income of $108k to qualify for that mortgage. Looking at it another way, with an income of $50k, you'd qualify for a loan of $150k. With 20% down, that's $180k of house. So you should buy now, with interest rate near historic lows. As the interest rate goes up, you will lose purchase power, and you will never be able to afford the house you can now.

Posted on October 28, 2014 at 6:06 pm 2

On Would You Pay for a Restaurant Reservation?

Oh I don't know. Say it's your 15th wedding anniversary. You're taking a weekend in Napa, and you've talked about dinner at the French Laundry since forever. Let's say a reservation is almost impossible, and has been for probably the last 20 years. If a guy says, "Hey buddy, how about a dinner reservation on the night you want, at the time you want, for $200?", would you go for it? I would.

Posted on October 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm 0

On What Will You Do With Your Extra $200?

@PrescriptionPants "Which is crazy because it basically guarantees social security will go bankrupt long before my generation retires." Not really. Remember, your Social Security benefits are based on your income. When they cap the payments at $117k, they also cap the benefits to that income level when you retire. You stop paying the tax, but you also stop collecting the benefit. In fact, in the sense that people generally collect more Social Security payments than they actually pay into the system, it's probably good for the bottom line that they cap the tax (and hence the benefits). Expect the cap to go away when people stop making money on Social Security.

Posted on September 30, 2014 at 12:16 pm 0

On 'Submissive Students Do Not Make Good Computer Scientists'

"I want my students to be creative problem solvers, leaders who think for themselves, critical thinkers willing and able to challenge authority." Well, don't we all. However, does the author really mean to imply that a quiet person cannot be creative or think for themselves? Then she throws out another wonderful claim. "The students who struggle in college are almost always the quiet ones." Really? Even if true, surely the author realizes that the logic fallacy she is trying to sneak by us. That most struggling students are quiet does not mean that all (or even most) quiet students struggle. BTW, she and I probably both know Jeff Hollingsworth in common. Jeff wasn't a wallflower in college, but he wasn't particularly loud or outspoken either. Mostly he kept his head down and did his work. And even the author would agree that he turned out to be a decent computer scientist.

Posted on September 26, 2014 at 7:49 pm 0

On Follow the Money (to Find a Genius)

Perhaps they just tend to get noticed when they are living in CA or NY. "Full many a gem of purest ray serene, The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear: Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air. Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast The little tyrant of his fields withstood; Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest, Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood. "

Posted on September 24, 2014 at 4:27 pm 0

On The Cost of Street Food in Delhi

I used to have to make semi-annual visits to Bangalore. Miserable trips, but I loved the visits to the golgappa vendor. I never got sick from food in India either, but I am probably used to food just as unsanitary when I grew up in Hong Kong.

Posted on September 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm 0