Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

Memetic vs. Genetic Evolution

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There's a correlation (negative, strong) between number of children and level of education.  Causation is really unimportant here, just that the correlation holds.

So consider - those with more education are likely to have certain traits and characteristics. Certain memes, if you will. Yet it is likely that they will not pass along as many of thier genes.

At what point will it be that memetic evolution - the passing along of ideas, regardless of biology, makes that difference in reproductive rates moot?

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100 Ways to Help the Environment

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100 Ways to Help the Environment - what more is there to say?

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Minimum Wages

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Economists, take a look at the graphs on the page. The first - and yes, I mean first - thing you should notice is this: the time-series is showing something repeatedly coming out of equilibrium and then being corrected.

The second thing economists will do is get in an argument over whether the shift up or the shift down is the correction.

U.S. Minimum Wage History

A federal minimum wage was first set in 1938. The graph shows nominal (blue diamonds) and real (red squares) minimum wage values. Nominal values range from $0.25/hr in 1938 to the current $5.15/hr. The graph adjusts these wages to 2006 dollars (red squares) to show the real value of the minimum wage. Calculated in real 2006 dollars, the 1968 minimum wage was the highest at $9.27. The real dollar minimum wage (red squares) rises and falls because of periodic adjustments by Congress. The period 1997-2007, is the longest period during which the minimum wage has not been adjusted. The House, January 10, 2007, voted a minimum wage increase to $5.85, to take effect 60 days after the measure becomes law. The green triangles show the real minimum wage increase in 2006 dollars for the three increments $5.85, $6.85 one year after becoming law (i.e., 2008, assuming the minimum wage increases in 2007) and $7.25 after two years (2009). The real values after 2006 are projected for future decline in purchasing power if the minimum wager is not raised. Many states have departed from the federal minimum wage. Washington has the highest minimum wage in the country at $7.93 as of January 1, 2007.

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Medical Insurance

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Let's think about this for a moment.

Corporations are required by law to make money for thier shareholders.

Medical insurance companies are supposed to spend thier money on thier customers.

That reduces profit.

That's one big mixed message and it explains all the problems people have with thier insurance in the US in one fell swoop.

There's a simple solution, and it doesn't involve the government.

Make insurance companies co-ops. Make the customers the shareholders.

Think about it for a second, then go suggest it to your local political pundit.

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Displays of Grief

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The recent shootings at VT, while horrific, did not affect many persons where I live. A few people had relatives there, or friends and acquaintances.

Yet there was this widespread sense that they personally were saddened, grieving. Grief counselors were offered to the entire student body of some of the local colleges. Moments of silence were held.

Yet that day, several times as many people died in Baghdad, innocent victims of a car bomb. More people died in a senseless bus wreck in SE Asia. And far more Americans died of hunger or preventable illness.

Yet they recieved no notice at all

If it was just foreigners, we could claim that it was nationalism that caused the discrepancy. But it's not. Further, we saw this same outpouring with the tsunami at Christmastime in 2005. So what can explain this puzzling behavior?

The outpouring of displays of grief (note the word "displays") serve as visual status markers to show how caring we are (individually and as a society), while not requiring ANY cost of actually doing something. If we grieved for the 150 killed in a car bombing in Baghdad, or the 20k civilians killed by our bombs or those killed by our greed, or lack of donations... well, we'd be compelled to do something.

Quite a few people take that challenge - but society at large does not. But here is a way that everyone in society can show what a caring, sensitive person they are - and not feel obliged to do a damn thing.

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