Archive for November 4, 2010

Another Question: Nov 04, 2010

November 4, 2010 7 comments

Here is another question that has always bothered me.

Cities collect parking fees and levy fines for curbside parking. What exactly are you paying for?

Parking lots with security, lighting, cover or plugins provide something in return for your money. But do cities provide any of the previously mentioned services/ utilities for curbside parking?

People already pay taxes for roads, gas and cars. So why pay any more for nothing? Isn’t paying for curbside parking a form of extortion, similar to paying arbitrary protection money to the mafia?


Unusual Patterns in Cephalopod Aging

November 4, 2010 5 comments

You might wonder- “why is this guy talking about cephalopod aging. What relevance does this have with anything else he writes about?” As you you shall soon see, a lot!

So what are cephalopods?

A cephalopod is any member of the molluscan class Cephalopoda (Greek plural Κεφαλόποδα (kephalópoda); “head-feet”). These exclusively marine animals are characterized by bilateral body symmetry, a prominent head, and a set of arms or tentacles (muscular hydrostats) modified from the primitive molluscan foot. Fishermen sometimes call them inkfish, referring to their common ability to squirt ink

The class now contains two, only distantly related, extant subclasses: Coleoidea, which includes octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish; and Nautiloidea, represented by Nautilus and Allonautilus. In the Coleoidea the molluscan shell has been internalized or is absent, whereas in the Nautiloidea the external shell remains.

Cephalopods are the most intelligent invertebrates, and are smarter than many mammals. Plus they have copper pigment based blood.

They also have a very peculiar life cycle. With the exception of Nautiloid cephalopods, they die after reproducing (most often after the first time). Non-nautiloid cephalopods that survive past 5 years are almost unknown.

Now you might say- so what? My counter question is- what advantage does this mode of reproduction/dying have for non-nautiloid cephalopods?

Nautiloid Cephalopods might be the most “primitive”, but they are the ultimate survivors. They have survived every single mass extinction since they first evolved over 500 million years ago. Moreover they are still fairly common, so they are doing something right.

Curiously, except for their shell- they are less tougher/smaller than other cephalopods. They cannot even dive as deep as many other cephalopods such as some species of squid and octopuses.

Nautiluses reproduce by laying eggs. Gravid females attach the fertilized eggs to rocks in shallow waters, whereupon the eggs take eight to twelve months to develop until the 30 millimetres (1.2 in) juveniles hatch. Females spawn once per year and regenerate their gonads, making nautiluses the only cephalopods to present iteroparity or polycyclic spawning. Nautiluses are sexually dimorphic, in that males have four tentacles modified into an organ, called the “spadix,” which transfers sperm into the female’s mantle during mating.

So they are not particularly fecund either.

The lifespan of nautiluses may exceed 20 years, which is exceptionally lengthy for a cephalopod.

The reality is that we do not know what their maximum life span is. It is certainly more than 20 years. So why are they different for the octopus, squid, cuttlefish group? They do share the same basic physiology, biochemistry, genes and biochemical/ signalling pathways.

What advantage does the short lifespan of the other group of cephalopods offer them? If anything, their intelligence makes longevity more useful. The answer, in my opinion, is obvious but counterintuitive to most.

Evolution does not optimize to the best configuration, merely to the nearest viable one.

Octopuses, squids and cuttlefish never regained their longevity after losing it because it offered no large or immediate advantage. But what does this have to do with what I usually write about? The answer is- a lot of HBD and other evo-psych crap is based on the unspoken assumption that every feature represents some optimization.

I am just pointing out that what might appear as an advantageous feature, could in reality be a maladaptation that is depriving the species of a much larger advantage.


NSFW Links: Nov 04, 2010

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

These links be NSFW.

Carolyn A from MetArt: Duo

Zahyra Amat: Boots


Categories: Uncategorized

Financialism and Perverse Incentives: 1

November 4, 2010 5 comments

I believe that financialization of the economy and compensation has created perverse incentives that are destroying the working and vital parts of various economies. Let me explain-

Compare two systems:

System 1– Individuals are compensated with cash, as opposed to stocks/bonds/equities or shares.

System 2– The majority of compensation comes from financial instruments, not cash.

In the first system, there is little incentive to cheat as the payoffs for a scam are smaller than steady, well-paid gainful employment. In the second system, the system offers huge payouts to short-term optimizing scam artists, while punishing honest and competent people.

You may ask- Why are the payoffs for scams higher in the second system?

Answer- The value of cash is fairly constant, unless you living in a very unstable country. However the value of a financial instrument can change a lot from day-to-day, or even second-to-second, based on scams, sentiments and other assorted frauds. It is possible to double or even quadruple you money within a few weeks or even minutes.

Therefore the incentive to fudge numbers, play confidence tricks, use accounting loopholes, create or use legalized scams to get the maximum sale price for the financial instrument you are holding is very high. In such a system, an honest person who plays fair is screwed.

Have you ever noticed that the US middle class flourished when the prices of stocks were low (1930s to late 1970s) and the gains in playing the stock market were nowhere near what they have been since the 1980s? Why could that be?

Compensation via redeemable private financial instruments (stocks, bonds, equities) is one of the major systemic problems in our current socio-economic system. Instead of encouraging honest people to work harder, it perversely creates massive incentives to scam and fraud without doing any useful work.

It can be fixed, rather easily, by compensating employees in cash only. While this step will not eliminate all problems arising from zero-sum world views, it will mitigate many problems and result in a better system than what we have now.


Question for Readers: Nov 4, 2010

November 4, 2010 2 comments

There have been many calls on well-read blogs to prosecute criminality and deception in the economic sphere. A majority of people would also support such prosecutions.

Here is my question-

How can you prosecute criminality in a system that is based in such behavior?

Get it? Pretty much all of our current socio-economic paradigms and systems ARE criminal and sociopathic behavior.