Assorted links


1. Well, some Blackwater folks must be coming available.

Wouldn't Al Qaeda folks be cheaper?

Given what people watch today on television (we don't even play poker, but watch people on television play poker), I am not surprised by the video games people entertain themselves with (at least you can play poker via video game).

A while back Giant Bomb did a ridiculous video looking at Euro Truck Simulator: it is quite the thing.


That strikes me as an odd methodology. Wouldn't it have been easier to split respondants into cohorts according to their ideology and test for the impact of age? The way the reasearchers did it, it's almost as if their goal was to render the ideology-envy correlation insignificant, rather than to demonstrate an age-envy correlation.

3: Didn't we all know the big problem was lack of aggregate demand?

#1. Why not raise the wage? Could it be that the Saudi rulers simply want local cover for switching to a means of the execution (firing squads) that is more acceptable to the world community?

They could go from the most primitive form of execution practiced in the world today to the most advanced.

My suggestion is to use nitrogen gas and call them "green chambers" and refer to the execution process as "recycling". That should improve the PR picture.

I always wondered why a big bolus of heroin or something is not the most humane method of execution.


Also, isn't this not the first time Tyler has linked a story about this?

Are heroin overdoses painless?

Is heroin reliably lethal?

Injection is necessarily by needle. With nitrogen gas, you aren't even aware of a problem before you black out, which is one reason why nitrogen is the most dangerous gas. (The fact that nitrogen is 77% of the Earth's atmosphere is another -- it contributes to carelessness in handling nitrogen.)

Even the blade of a guillotine would be felt, and some freshly guillotined heads are said to have appeared to retain consciousness for a short time. That won't happen with nitrogen.

So I wonder how's the transition, even with Nitrogen: There has to be some point where the jump from "I feel something" to "I can't feel anything" happens......

Beheading seems a reasonably painless way of killing someone compared to other methods (but who really knows). Why do people take issue?

I doubt it's a wage issue. As the first commenter at the article asks, "How can there be a shortage when they are barely doing 1 execution every 5 days?"

It looks like extreme featherbedding. But how do you punish that?

There's something more going on here, as the body of that story doesn't support the lead, at all. If there's only 70-odd executions per year, why isn't a single person sufficient? The article seems to indicate that the "lack of executioners" is just a transparent cover from a state-run media body for shifting to a policy of firing squads as a result of international pressure.

However, even this isn't fully satisfactory, as it is not like death by firing squad has dramatically more moral authenticity than beheading, at least not in the eyes of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International.

Odd article.

Swordsman Simulator? With appropriate localisation.

They have an Austrian Truck Simulator! Next, they need a Keynesian Truck Simulator!

2: What no "Waiting for Grodoudou" or "George Plimpton's Video Falconry"?


4. Speculative and not very convincing. From the article:

"To mitigate uncertainty, plans will price their products high. Insurers know that any excess profits they earn will have to be paid back to the government, anyway (owing to caps that Obamacare places on how much profit health plans can earn). Health plans are better off aiming high, and owing money back, then getting underwater."

The caps in the ACA are on % of revenues that can be used for administrative costs (or anything other than reimbursing patient health costs). They are not caps on absolute profits. The economic incentive for an insurance provider is to lower their price -- that will tend to increase their volume of policies sold and reduce their administrative cost %. If they set the price too high they will reduce revenues and still have to give back revenues that exceed the capped cost ratio.

And the author seems not to know the difference between "then' and "than".

"The caps in the ACA are on % of revenues that can be used for administrative costs (or anything other than reimbursing patient health costs). They are not caps on absolute profits."

For all practical purposes, the rebates are always going to come directly from profits.

Yes, but an insurance provider doing a high volume of business relative to administrative costs can make larger profits with lower (or no) rebates to consumers. Raising prices won't lower administrative costs much, but it will reduce revenues from premiums as customers choose cheaper plans. The reverse is also true -- lowering costs will increase revenues from premiums faster than it will increase administrative costs, allowing the firm to claim more profit for owners and investors.

"For one thing, insurers will want to protect against the risk that individuals entering the exchanges are those who most need health insurance because of pre-existing illness. If this sort of "adverse selection" occurs, it will raise costs to insurers. To guard against this, insurers are likely to price the coverage at a premium."

This strike me as the most likely scenario. Companies can't go back and ask for more money if they guess wrong and they all have to give back money if they guess high. So why not guess high? Few existing customers will switch, because they'll get a rebate back if the amount charged was much above the competition.

Adverse selection due to pre-existing conditions is a valid concern, but the article neglects to consider that there are many people who will be entering the market because they could not afford it in the past, but will now be receiving subsidies. There will likely be many more people in the latter category than in the former; the question is will the ratio be lopsided enough to counteract the high-cost tail of those with pre-existing conditions?

There are some other incentives at work here, though. Some states are limiting the pool of insurers, or actively negotiating policies. I agree that the first year or two could be a total mess, but I'm still hopeful that the exchanges could level the playing field for consumers and force more transparent competition on the insurance industry. I wouldn't say confident, but hopeful...

#1 .. They should contact Mythbusters. I think they might have a sword swinging contraption already built and tested.

You're okay with giving even more good paying middle class jobs to robots?

Don't forget the multiplier. It takes at least three humans to build every contraption on that show.

I would at least hope that Austrian Truck Simulator has more mountainous roads than German Truck Simulator.

I'm 25 and voicemail is the best way to get in touch with me because I use google voice but an old cell phone. Responding to texts is a pain and I rarely pick up the phone when it rings (it's usually in my coat pocket in the hall closet), but a lousy transcript signals that your contact is important enough to warrant finding you.

re: 1. The numbers don't add up. The behead about 70 people per year and there is a shortage of swordsmen? Seems like you'd only need 1 or 2 for that. It also says another reason for the change is the swordsmen show up late? Come on, there is something else happening here.

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