This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.
The message boards have been upgraded. Please log in to your existing account by clicking here. It will ask twice, so that it can properly update your password and login information. If it has trouble recognizing your password, click the 'Forgot your password?' link to reset it with a new password sent to your email address on file.

Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.


Messages - Pat

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 149
1
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« on: January 18, 2021, 07:15:37 pm »
I am a health care professional, and i agree that it is a good thing. There are a lot of other factors to consider too, but as far as ICU utilization goes, those are pretty good.
The problem is state-wide averages aren't a particularly useful metric. If every hospital is running at 75% capacity, that's great. But if 1/2 the hospitals are running at 100% capacity and the other 1/2 are running at 50% capacity, that's terrible. A more useful measure would be the number or percentage of hospitals exceeding various thresholds.
Even that is prone to issues.  For example,, a community hospital with 8 ICU beds needs to be differentiated from a major hospital with 150+ ICU beds. That's part of what I summed up as "a lot of other factors" but overall loads are a good place to start so long as your medical transport capacity can redirect/divert to balance those loads somewhat.
Except hospitals are local, and patients tend to be transferred within regions, not within states. And that's exactly what broke down at the start of this surge. A lot of rural hospitals were reporting that they were being turned down, when they tried to transfer critical patients to regional centers capable of handling them. A better approach might involve focusing on regional capacity.

2
The fact that a Q-tard congresswoman threw a fit when metal detectors were installed tells me there might be something to this one.
Anyone who complains when their civil liberties are infringed is obviously guilty.

What bullshit. Anyone who boards a plane or sets foot in a courthouse has to go through metal detectors. No one's rights are being infringed.
One civil rights violation can't be used to justify another civil rights violation.

Plus, the TSA is completely useless. It's civil rights abuse under the guise of security theatre.

https://reason.com/2015/06/03/the-tsa-is-useless-but-have-you-seen-the/
http://gmancasefile.blogspot.com/2012/01/tsa-fail.html
https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/137184
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ex-tsa-head-kip-hawley-airport-security-should-focus-on-bombs-and-behavior-not-knives-and-liquids/

3
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« on: January 18, 2021, 05:39:24 pm »
I am a health care professional, and i agree that it is a good thing. There are a lot of other factors to consider too, but as far as ICU utilization goes, those are pretty good.
The problem is state-wide averages aren't a particularly useful metric. If every hospital is running at 75% capacity, that's great. But if 1/2 the hospitals are running at 100% capacity and the other 1/2 are running at 50% capacity, that's terrible. A more useful measure would be the number or percentage of hospitals exceeding various thresholds.

4
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« on: January 18, 2021, 01:49:36 pm »
I know people like numbers so here are some from Ohio.  We've had a complete mask mandate, where businesses are threated with shutdown by the state if they allow people w/o masks inside, for several months now.  No lockdowns recently but we are under curfew from 10pm to 5am.  According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (who report the governor's press releases) update I got last Thursday:

Quote
A county-by-county breakdown outlining the presence of COVID-19 in all of Ohio's 88 counties can be found on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System's website.  All 88 counties have a level of spread that is at least three times more than what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers high incidence.

Governor DeWine also discussed key measurements regarding incidence cases per 100,000 residents over two weeks, as well as regional COVID-19 ICU utilization.

"We saw new cases per capita at the statewide level increase since last week, which indicates that COVID-19 continues to spread in both urban and rural communities throughout Ohio," said Governor DeWine.

There is a pretty little info-graphic with one map showing the incidence rate and the other the ICU utilization.  The numbers show average incidence up over the previous week from 656.6 to 739.8 while ICU utilization dropped from 28.8% to 26.8%.

It looks like the highest ICU utilization is somewhere around 35-40%.  It is hard to tell because it's just one of those different shades of blue sliding scales.  It is definitely under the 50% mark though.
Does it match these numbers?
https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/dashboards/key-metrics/hospitalizations

Overall covid patient counts have been steadily but slowly dropping since the start of the year. Covid patients in the ICU and on ventilators seem fairly stable. Overall ICU utilization has been hovering around 75%, but covid patients only make up about 20%. Only about a 1/4 of ventilators are in use.

5
Some variation is good, but I use stock monsters most of the time because it rewards player skill.

6
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: These FIVE men control your freedom
« on: January 17, 2021, 10:18:37 pm »
What happens when Microsoft decides your political viewpoint 'violates' their terms of service?
You thank Linus Torvalds, and move on.
Oh, so Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and Google Cloud services play no part in datacenters...
Buy your own server. They're not that expensive, and they're an important part of a backup plan.

7
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: These FIVE men control your freedom
« on: January 17, 2021, 09:29:37 pm »
What happens when Microsoft decides your political viewpoint 'violates' their terms of service?
You thank Linus Torvalds, and move on.

8
The fact that a Q-tard congresswoman threw a fit when metal detectors were installed tells me there might be something to this one.
Anyone who complains when their civil liberties are infringed is obviously guilty.

9
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: These FIVE men control your freedom
« on: January 17, 2021, 06:33:11 pm »
Eh. I agree that some regulations favor larger corporations, there are also free market factors that favor large corporations - like various economies of scale. Just removing regulation can also favor large corporations - as we can see a number of large corporations fight against a number of regulations. In general, I'd prefer streamlined and clear regulation rather than complex regulation. But anti-trust law is also crucial.

Billionaires and giant corporations have an outsized voice because of their money, but money isn't everything. If people organize, then they can vote in representatives and laws that restrict the conditions that allowed these billionaires and giant corporations to come about. I would favor breaking up some of the larger tech companies like Facebook, and reforming Section 230.
You're positing an equality that doesn't exist. Sure, there are a few regulations that favor small companies over large ones. But the bulk favor large companies. It's absurdly one-sided. The fights against regulations that get any attention at all are the tiniest tip of a grand iceberg of decisions and regulations and laws that have been passed that favor large companies and established players. That's how regulatory capture works -- companies in an industry have a strong, sustained interest in the regulation of their industry, meaning they work constantly over long time scales to swing things in their favor, and have great expertise. In contrast, public attention tends to be short lived and superficial, resulting in big sudden changes, but being overwhelmed by the innumerable small changes that favor the established corporations. Bureaucrats rarely check this, because they have no skin the game, and the industries fete them with aid vacations, plum jobs once they retire from public disservice, and all kinds of other benefits that, even barring an explicit tit-for-tat trade of favors, leads to a long term and subtle favoritism.

Economies of scale exist, but they're overrated. There are advantages to a certain size in certain industries, but typically at a finite size significantly smaller than the size of the industry, getting larger starts to provide relatively little advantage, while coming with serious disadvantages, like a lack of nimbleness.

Breaking up some of the big companies may be necessary, but that's because the government failed not the free market. A better, broader, and longer term solution is to restrict government discretionary power. This doesn't necessarily mean weakening regulations -- it's not strong regulations that create the problem, it's regulations that allow technocrats, judges, and other players a wide degree of discretion; and the continual fine-tuning by regulators and legislators who have incentives to favor the industry, like donations or private sector jobs.

10
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: These FIVE men control your freedom
« on: January 17, 2021, 05:24:15 pm »
So this is the issue, really: a failure of the free market.
I agree with nearly everything you said, except for this. It's not a failure of the free market. The US is a heavily interventionist state with a bureaucracy with broad discretionary powers, and a legislature with even broader powers. Even without explicit collusion they collude, because the companies know they have to be on the good side of the bureaucrats, and they spend heavily on political campaigns to get the legislators to write laws that favor them. The most telling evidence is the money. 9 out of 10 of the most expensive Senate races of all time occurred in 2020 (the exception is from 2018). When the amount of money spent on politics goes up, it's not typically because companies suddenly developed a social a conscience. It's because they think the return on their investment has increased.

This invariably favors the large, established companies. Amazon and Google boom, while mom and pop stores wither under the weight of regulation, taxes, or other disadvantages. In particular, it makes it very unlikely that new competitors will arise and displace the existing giants. This is what creates monopolies, not the free market. The government, with an endless string or obscure maneuvers or vaguely justifiable laws or decisions, makes it easy for the established companies, and hard for anyone who wants to compete with them. Even the sheer volume of these regulations favors the big companies, because an army of accounts and lawyers to help with compliance is a smaller portion of their budget than it is for a 10 person startup. When you make the government not just a regulator, but a major client, and an enforced partner in various initiatives, like the massive spying on American citizens that was exposed by Snowdon and Wikileaks, this link is augmented.

The giants in turn gain inordinate sway, and remove options. If they collectively decide to discriminate against Jews, then there's no recourse. Anyone wanting to start a Jewish social media platform, for instance, will be locked out. It's the variety of the market and the ease of entry that provides alternatives when there's discrimination. Because if there are a 100 companies, then at least one of them is probably willing to work with you, even if only by the backdoor (the increasing lack of privacy in anything is another negative factor that hurts the little companies). This is true now for political suppression, and was true in the past for things like black entrepreneurs, even during the height of Jim Crow.

The fault isn't in the free market, it's in the statism and bureaucracy.

11
Speaking of reestablishing norms, in response to the mostly peaceful but terrifying events that led lawmakers to courageously cower in their chambers or bravely flee, metal detectors have suddenly appeared at the entrances to the House floor.

https://nypost.com/2021/01/13/rep-boebert-clashes-with-capitol-police-over-metal-detector/

This wouldn't have affected the protesters in the slightest, so it must be a response to the danger presented by members of Congress. They're telling us we clearly can't trust them.
Are they worried Lauren's going to whip out her piece and gank a few Dems?

So much projection.
Yes.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/some-democrats-congress-are-worried-their-colleagues-might-kill-them-n1254319

Each new election is more entertaining than the last.

12
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: These FIVE men control your freedom
« on: January 16, 2021, 01:32:09 pm »
Whether the paper is correct or whether the claimed reasons for taking action against Standard Oil didn’t exist at the time are both irrelevant to whether a valid, actionable scenario exists now to be addressed

A big part of why the other side makes hard gains in the culture war is they take action, as opposed to using the present circumstances as an opportunity to debate the minutia of theory for theory acceptance.  They eat a meal when food is available, instead of debating the platonic meal, or the best restaurant to eat their next meal at.  Think tanks are where those who wish to debate what action should look like are willingly diverted from any possibility of acting.
Theories address what type of action should be taken, and should inform practical actions. Plus, this is a board for discussing pork-free games, not a form of action.

But while I don't agree that stopping all debate is useful, I do agree there is a passive and active side in the culture war. But a lot of the reason why one side is winning is because they've spend decades theorizing, and having their theories widely taught and disseminated. Successful action is a result of that, not the other way around.

13
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: These FIVE men control your freedom
« on: January 16, 2021, 01:15:00 pm »
we’re a ways past the threshold of the Standard Oil precedent with big tech.  It won’t be a betrayal of the principle of private property to enforce changes in structure, behavior, and ownership.
The Standard Oil precedent, and thus the entire edifice of US anti-trust policy, is based on a lie which was exposed more than 60 years ago. Recommended reading for anyone interested in anti-trust or monopolies:
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~twod/oil-ns/articles/research-oil/research-oil/john_mcgee_predatory_pricing_standard_oil1958.pdf

Monopolies don't really exist in the wilds of a true free market. Undercutting the prices of your competitors means you lose money, and even if you drive them out of business, that just means their assets are available at fire sale prices for the next competitor, making it even cheaper for them. The only reason monopolies exist is because a compliant government puts up barriers to hinder new competitors. (The only exception might be DeBeers.)

A classic example is Amazon and sales tax. For years, Amazon resisted paying sales tax, because it gave them an advantage against brick and mortar retailers. But as they became huge, the number of online competitors with similar advantages increased, that flipped. Since they had a physical presence and thus had to pay taxes already in more states, forcing all their online competitors to also pay taxes in those states gave them a relative advantage. And since they were big, the overhead of working out how to pay tax in each of the 10,000 or so local tax codes in the US was relatively cheap for them, and expensive for their smaller competitors. So they dropped their resistance and supported online tax laws, which were quickly passed due to compliant legislatures. This happens in big and small ways all over, with regulations and laws nearly always favoring large and established companies over their new and smaller competitors. That is how real monopolies are created and sustained. Unlike Standard Oil, Big Tech is a real, or state-supported, monopoly.

Just a cursory read of the paper you linked shows it doesn't support your position that monopolies can't exist in the "wilds of a free market", hell a handful of paragraphs in and the author explains a process by which just such a thing can happen without undercutting taking place at all.

The author of this paper then makes a few related critical errors in my opinion. He assumes that "Anything above the competitive value of their firms should be enough to buy them" when asserting a hypothetical in which a potential monopoly or pre-existing monopoly is looking to eliminate localized competition. This is a specious assumption that requires a sort of mechanistic rote logic decision making by the holders of a firm being targeted by a larger one, it ignores the fact that people are rarely if ever perfectly rational and many do in fact form emotional attachments to their holdings that are above the simple market value.

The author again goes on to make the assumption that a monopolistic firm simply wouldn't be willing to eat the costs associated with under cutting when the option of a flat buyout is hypothetically on the table. Again this requires some sort of perfect logic machine to be making decisions. Worse still it ignores the possibility of a long term stratagem in which the potential monopoly is willing to eat the steep short term losses which while possibly steeper than the cost of a buyout could reap long term benefits in the form of a multitude of elements including direct revenue, influence on secondary and tertiary industries, etc that would make the cost benefit analysis make sense.

That paper is shit. He makes an number of "just so" "logical" assumptions to set and justify his premises that are not at all apparent. All manner of scenarios could be conceived that would dismiss each of his necessary clauses, and most of them requiring far fewer assumptions.
The citation was to back up my claim about Standard Oil. That's why it's specifically under that paragraph, and not at the end. The paper illustrates that the basis for the Standard Oil decision, and the ensuing legacy of anti-trust actions, is based on a lie. Standard Oil was not a monopoly, it had many competitors, and those competitors were increasing not diminishing in power. It also debunks predatory pricing. Most of the rationale behind anti-trust regulation was based on a single author, who had no direct expertise on the subject, but who had an axe to grind because her immediate relatives failed to compete successfully with SO.

The paper I cited is highly regarded among economists, and none of your criticisms touch on the heart of the matter. Economic theory requires simplifying complex behavior. This can sometimes be an oversimplification, or miss essential elements, but if you want to point out the flaws in a theory, you need to demonstrate that those simplifications make the conclusions incorrect, you can't simply point out that it doesn't account for every possible variable. That would invalidate every theory in economics, and in most other fields as well.

For instance, it's true that some people will hold to their businesses, even when they're given an offer well above market value. But most will sell. Both because it provides a greater financial reward, and because people who make poor economic decisions will tend to fail out the marketplace, and thus are less likely to own businesses. This is why it's a useful assumption. There are certainly some valid criticisms based on "Homo economicus", but most are based on the same fallacious logic you're making: Economists don't assume that all people are always rational. But people are frequently rational, and rationality is predictable. Conversely, people who behave for reasons beyond purely rational economic trade offs tend to do so for multifarious reasons. So if 90%, or 60%, or even 30% of people behave in an economically rational way, then we can draw conclusions based on that because it creates a clear trend among the otherwise more random data. The same problem applies to your argument about eating costs. Since you appear to like citations for everything, the first chapter of David Friedman's Hidden Order covers this fundamental basis of economics in a very readable form.

Your long term stratagem argument doesn't undercut anything, either. The problem with eating steep losses is it only makes sense if you can increases your revenue in other areas. For instance, by ending up in a theoretical monopoly position where you can dictate prices. If that can't work, it's just a loss. To prove your point, you'd need to show how a company can use alternatives to a buy out to gain an advantage that outweighs the losses.

If you want a source for why monopolies can't survive in the wild, it's addressed in Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics. I could also point you at Mises, but that's heavier reading.

14
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: These FIVE men control your freedom
« on: January 16, 2021, 09:11:15 am »
we’re a ways past the threshold of the Standard Oil precedent with big tech.  It won’t be a betrayal of the principle of private property to enforce changes in structure, behavior, and ownership.
The Standard Oil precedent, and thus the entire edifice of US anti-trust policy, is based on a lie which was exposed more than 60 years ago. Recommended reading for anyone interested in anti-trust or monopolies:
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~twod/oil-ns/articles/research-oil/research-oil/john_mcgee_predatory_pricing_standard_oil1958.pdf

Monopolies don't really exist in the wilds of a true free market. Undercutting the prices of your competitors means you lose money, and even if you drive them out of business, that just means their assets are available at fire sale prices for the next competitor, making it even cheaper for them. The only reason monopolies exist is because a compliant government puts up barriers to hinder new competitors. (The only exception might be DeBeers.)

A classic example is Amazon and sales tax. For years, Amazon resisted paying sales tax, because it gave them an advantage against brick and mortar retailers. But as they became huge, the number of online competitors with similar advantages increased, that flipped. Since they had a physical presence and thus had to pay taxes already in more states, forcing all their online competitors to also pay taxes in those states gave them a relative advantage. And since they were big, the overhead of working out how to pay tax in each of the 10,000 or so local tax codes in the US was relatively cheap for them, and expensive for their smaller competitors. So they dropped their resistance and supported online tax laws, which were quickly passed due to compliant legislatures. This happens in big and small ways all over, with regulations and laws nearly always favoring large and established companies over their new and smaller competitors. That is how real monopolies are created and sustained. Unlike Standard Oil, Big Tech is a real, or state-supported, monopoly.

15
The RPGPundit's Own Forum / Re: These FIVE men control your freedom
« on: January 15, 2021, 03:48:28 pm »
The Internet is *not* free. The Internet costs *money*. Facebook and Twitter pay tons of money to buy Internet servers and develop the technology for their service. In a capitalist system, this means that they control what they paid for. They don't have to let you use their servers.
As has been pointed out, the US is very far from being a capitalist system. You can't argue the natural right of free individuals to make their own decisions in the free market applies to the state and the corporations they're in bed with in a cronyist and corporatist system.

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 149