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Ridge-id

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Every time I visit the many state parks around the country that still rely on infrastructure built back in the 1930s by the CCC and the WPA, it makes me a bit sad.

And when I drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the world, I marvel that something like this was ever built because nothing remotely like it would be even attempted today.

Amazing what our forebears with fewer resources and with worse technology were able to achieve that we now are utterly incapable of contemplating, much less constructing from nothing.

Our culture tells us we can’t do things that are in fact easily possible (such as single payer), and we just believe it, no questions asked.

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sarcozona
2 hours ago
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What it looks like

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Here’s how it looks when you don’t do your homework.

And then do some spreadsheet fuckery.

Damn, this lack of depth of analysis pisses me off. This stuff is not hard. Also, looking for rightward shifts or the refutation thereof just based on spending alone, and in a relatively-small part of the federal budget, is just lazy.

I don’t have the energy to write a whole screed here, but there’s this:

The answer lies in the fact that the major effect of Welfare reform was a substantial increased in administration costs, commonly known as bureaucracy, and wasteful spending. In fact the total amount of administration costs increased by 300%. [2,3]. After doing the math I found that we could double the number of people on welfare without adding a cent to the total cost of welfare, if we simply repealed “The Personal responsibility and work Opportunity act (welfare reform)”. The savings would come in the reduction in wasteful spending.

(I removed emphasis.)

So much wrong with the post and the thoughts therein.

Lately, I’ve regretted reading so much. I hate writing that makes me dumber.

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sarcozona
2 hours ago
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Oh geezus they didn't even account for income levels and most aren't calculated per capita.
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Can Massey Tunnel “Bottleneck” be relieved by Short Sea Shipping?

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The CBC reports on a rather sensible potential solution to reducing traffic south of the Fraser River through “short sea shipping”. Terry Engler who is a longshoreman and a   Vancouver union president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 400 noted that  “limiting truck traffic coming from nearby port terminals south of the Fraser River is key to reducing traffic.”

“This would make everything easier for everyone, including the truck drivers, because they don’t make money when they’re stuck in traffic,” said Engler.”

Using a series of barges on navigable waters, up to 100 containers can be transported on each vessel to move goods from the Fraser River port to municipalities through a “network of unloading terminals.” Instead of trucks carrying goods to Deltaport, the distances trucks would have to travel would be significantly reduced, which would in turn ease congestion.

“We have one of the best places in the world for navigable waters,” said Engler. “We should use them safely and properly … This is a way that would make more sense than building more bridges and having more trucks driving.”

The CBC interview discussing this type of shipping is available here.

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sarcozona
2 days ago
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Extreme beta distributions

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A beta probability distribution has two parameters, a and b. You can think of these as the number of successes and failures out of a+b trials. The PDF of a beta distribution is approximately normal if a and b are approximately equal and ab is large.

If a and b are close, they don’t have to be very large for the beta PDF to be approximately normal. (In all the plots below, the solid blue line is the beta distribution and the dashed orange line is the normal distribution with the same mean and variance.)

beta(9, 11) PDF vs normal

On the other hand, when a and b are very different, the beta distribution can be skewed and far from normal. Note that ab is the same in the example above and below.

beta(2, 18) PDF vs normal

Why the sharp corner above? The beta distribution is only defined on the interval [0, 1] and so the PDF is zero for negative values.

An application came up today that raised an interesting question: What if ab is very large, but a and b are very different? The former works in favor of the normal approximation but the latter works against it.

The application had a low probability of success but a very large number of trials. Specifically, a + b would be on the order of a million, but a would be less than 500. Does the normal approximation hold for these kinds of numbers? Here are some plots to see.

extreme beta distribution pdfs

When a = 500 the normal approximation is very good. It’s still pretty good when a = 50, but not good at all when a = 5.

Update: Mike Anderson suggested using the skewness to quantify how far a beta is from normal. Good idea.

The skewness of a beta(a, b) distribution is

2(ba)√(a + b + 1) / (a + b + 2) √(ab)

Let Nab and assume N is large and a is small, so that NN + 2,  b – a, and N – a are all approximately equal in ratios. Then the skewness is approximately 2 /√a. In other words, once the number of trials is sufficiently large, sknewness hardly depends on the number of trials and only depends on the number of successes.

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sarcozona
2 days ago
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15. Ambient nitrogen reduction cycle using a hybrid inorganic-biological system

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Chong Liu
Jun 20, 2017; 114:6450-6455
Applied Biological Sciences
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sarcozona
2 days ago
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34. Impact of nutrition on social decision making

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Sabrina Strang
Jun 20, 2017; 114:6510-6514
Neuroscience
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sarcozona
2 days ago
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Sugar for breakfast makes you bitchy.
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