deflation is healthy?

I ran across this graphic earlier today, which is both interesting and informative. It overtly says that fighting wars is a bad idea; I certainly agree with that. It should never be other than a last resort (as in, 'I need to keep this person from killing me', not as in, 'If you don't clean your room right this instant').

It also strongly implies that inflation is a bad thing, and weakly implies that deflation is a good thing. If the latter is true, well, that certainly doesn't gibe with opinions I've heard from any economist. It's certainly true that a lot of inflation is a bad thing, but a little bit is generally a good thing.

Why is that? Because most people are debtors to some degree (granted, some are so by choice, rather than necessity, but that's an awfully small category). And if you owe money, a small amount of inflation reduces the burden of that debt. This is also why deflation is bad: it INcreases the burden of debt. Think about that for a minute. Think that mortgage is expensive now?

The graphic ends with the thought, how would it feel if your dollar went twenty times as far as it does? Well, that would be nice, but unless you've been holding on to that dollar for over a century, it's not relevant.

Yeah, I'd love for my dollar to go twenty times as far as it does, but if it did, I'd also make 1/20th what I make now (probably; certainly something close to that). So really, what's the point?

Asking the wrong friend?

Just caught these millionaire clips. Not a big fan, in general, (prefer Jeopardy) but I have watched a few episodes. But what I thought was most interesting was when he went to phone a friend, and showed his three friends. Was the third one, the Dan from Cambridge, the same Dan from Cambridge who won his semifinal round today (well, ok, it was shown today; I don't know how long the tape delay is) in Jeopardy's Tournament of Champions? Sure looks like him, but I'm not very good with faces, so I'm not certain.



I've heard an awful lot of crap about health reform, most of which is not even meant to be informative. But here's a very informative look at that old canard of tort reform.

I've heard a lot about how health care reform needs to start with tort reform, but we know that'll never happen. Before looking at the actual facts involved here, consider that any tort reform will inevitably end up putting a dollar value on a human life.

It's a brutal necessity. The worst that can happen in medical malpractice is that the patient dies. Ok, the family sues. If you cap what they can win, you've put a price on a human life. I can't imagine that that would ever be politically possible.

Nevertheless, getting back to the article, read it. It's worth the time.

But consider this: malpractice claims, according to this, are only 40% of premiums. So doctors are paying 2-1/2 times as much for the insurance as the insurance companies are paying out. Can you say PROFIT?

This is vastly overpriced insurance. Insurance should operate as arbitrage with the insurance companies employing actuaries to know the odds of bad stuff happening better than those who buy the insurance. So the profit margin on insurance should be pretty small. Most of the profit should come from investing the proceeds of the premiums.

So, is it legal for doctors to do without? If not, that tells us what will happen if the health insurance mandate for which the Blue Dogs are pushing happens without the public option (which they are pushing to remove).

Get those dogs out of the house!


Mordant's Need

I just finished reading Mordant's Need (Man, those covers are dreadful; glad I've got the original editions). I've read it a time or two before, and there are a number of odd things about that.

The first was that I ever started the first book. I read it in high school, when I was an absolutely voracious reader of anything sci-fi or fantasy that I could get my hands on. What makes it odd, though, is that I had previously tried to read Donaldson's Thomas Covenant, and, despite being solidly in the target audience, just couldn't push my way through them. I tried four of the six books, and was only able to get through one of them by it being my last unread book on a plane flight.

And I wasn't exactly overwhelmed when I finally made it through that one. So I'm not at all sure why I picked up Mordant's Need at all. Nevertheless, I did.

But here I'm wondering about another thing, as to why I actually finished it. At the beginning of the book, the two main characters are a cipher and a bumbler. Generally, when I really enjoy a book, it comes from significantly identifying with (one of) the main character(s). But I can't figure out how I would have identified with either of them; I've never been clumsy, nor have I ever had a significant lack of self-confidence. I certainly couldn't understand Terisa's reaction to Master Eremis.

And those seem like the defining characteristics of those two. And yet, they grow into intelligent, passionate people with purpose (one weakness of the books is that Geraden grows out of his clumsiness; I can't say as I've ever seen anyone manage to do that).

And while I can't understand Terisa's reaction to Eremis, the interaction between those two was quite amusing, finishing on quite the high note.

So despite all the hurdles in the way of me finishing the series, I have ended up doing so several times. And enjoyed the books each time.

Fortunately, I've waited long enough each time to forget the main reason for why the kingdom is in such peril until it became clear from the story. It would seriously spoil things, I think, to know in advance about the doddering old king.

The only real weakness I saw, was some tactical elements around the final battle. Terisa (or Geraden, come to think of it) could have used her powers to circumvent most of the biggest threats in that battle, without ever leaving their initial position there. And one or two details describing troop movements seemed... unlikely, to put it generously.

Still, I enjoyed the series again, as in the past.

crazy like a fox

Just looked at yesterday's Foxtrot, and I must admit that my first thought (before I'd noticed any details besides the screen) was that he wanted a 106" screen, not 100". Because 100" would be 4:3, not 16:9 (and if you're going to do a projector system, not doing HD is really, really silly).

Update: Looked at Herd Thinners shortly after. I must admit that I thought it was a perpetual motion machine, not wrestling.


Hitting in the clutch

Tom Tango, one of the authors of The Book, and generally a very interesting writer wrt baseball, wrote an article a while ago at The Hardball Times (a site I visit several times a week). I'm not sure why he wrote it there, but the article inspired several questions for me.

Basically, what the article talks about is a survey comparing performances of so-called clutch players, and their performances compared to more talented, but less "clutch" players. His main point was generally that talent will win out.

But his results were interesting. The "clutchier" players actually did show a small (and likely insignificant) bettering of the more talented players.

The questions it left me wondering about were:

  • Would you be better off taking the "clutchier" player if they have the platoon advantage, as well. Offhand, my guess is yes, but I'm not sure I have the tools to verify that.
  • Has anyone done a study of fielding in, say, late/close situations? Ie: you hear managers (probably bloviating) talk about putting pressure on the defense. Is there anything to that? Again, my guess is no, but I'm far from certain.
  • Are 3TO (three true outcomes: BB, K, HR; ie: at-bats that are purely pitcher vs hitter. Defense optional. Think Adam Dunn or Jim Thome)-type batters more vulnerable to good pitchers. That is to say, would Adam Dunn or Gary Sheffield be hurt more by facing a really good pitcher? Or is it a wash?
  • Lastly, is it more worthwhile to put the ball in play in a late/close situation than it would be normally?

Skin in the game

I played ultimate frisbee for eight or so hours on Saturday. I can't say as I was happy with the results; we rather collapsed at the end. But it was still a fun season; I certainly can't complain about the season as a whole.

The reason I bring it up, though, is that I ended up with quite a bit of sunburn. Which, as one would expect, left me peeling quite a bit yesterday (and a little bit today, as well).

This got me thinking about a short passage in one of the last two Dresden books where Harry makes an aside about how careful he has to be about making sure not to leave any bit of himself around for rival/enemy thaumaturges to find. And I wonder how he manages to never get enough sun to be peeling.

I think it'd be interesting if he were framed for a crime in the next book, where he had to provide DNA evidence. Would he let it happen?


Peavy to the white sox?

I read about this one in the paper a couple of days ago (yes, I should post more promptly), and I still can't understand it. His home/road splits aren't quite as bad as I expected them to be, but San Diego's park is still very well suited to his style of pitching. And the cell tower is particularly badly suited to it. I just don't see it working out well for either of them.

And that's doubly true when you add in moving from the NL to the AL. For those unaware, the AL is a far more competitive league than the NL. The AL didn't dominate the NL quite as impressively this year as the last couple, but it was still a solid margin.

I guess we'll see what happens once Peavy returns from the DL.