Posts by James Green

  • Access: Treatment for itching and shyness,

    Aside: Coal tar is still on the WHO list of essential medicines, and is also the original source of the ubiquitous paracetamol.
    Kudos to your mum.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 697 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Change for the Better, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It's just as well we're building cycleways, because those things look bloody difficult to ride in traffic.

    Having spent a month cycling round Santa Monica and Venice on a less exaggerated cruiser, I can tell you that they're much better than they appear. The super upright laid-back position is great in traffic, and equally great on the boardwalk or the firm intertidal sand. The relative lack of gears was a bit annoying on the hills, but rather loved it.

    On a side-note, that whole area is surprisingly fabulous for cycling. A lot of on-street cycle lanes (typically one street across from the major thoroughfares like Santa Monica Boulevard), the boardwalk along the beach (I think the only separated facility), and a really high level of respect from motorists — apparently in part from fear of legal liability if they were to collect a cyclist. Even a friend that would never cycle in NZ was really happy to cycle there, sans helmet...

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 697 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: My last name sounds Chinese,

    CODA - Someone usefully pointed out that I haven't accounted for couples in my analysis, so you could probably reduce those estimates, but I also haven't accounted for investor activity, which will push them back out a bit again.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 697 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: My last name sounds Chinese,

    I realise I forgot to spell the final point out. If your surname doesn't sound Chinese, then it would appear that there is 1 sale per home owner every 30 years*. Which is really freaking low.

    * There's quite a bit of kludge in this, but doesn't seem worse than the original analysis.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 697 posts Report Reply

  • OnPoint: My last name sounds Chinese,

    Don't ask me why I'm wading into this.

    Firstly on the ethnicity measure. Yes it's not very robust, and there will be plenty of false positives, and more than a few false negatives. But it's not totally terrible. I've seen it in one published paper (on medical school admissions, where they had no ethnicity data; from memory mostly to separate "south asian" in the UK). And more broadly, the idea of using a proxy measure in the absence of good data is pretty normal.

    Secondly, any way that you present data has strengths and weaknesses. Yes the percentages portray it one way, and looking at the absolute numbers portray it another way. But Keith also indulges in some sleight of hand. Yes it's entirely possible for 126000 people to buy 3500 houses. But that does also look very high when that means that 1274000 buy 5318 houses. But see my final conclusion below.

    Thirdly, fewer houses do sell in winter. I could only find 2013 data, but it looks like approx 26000 houses sold that year. Assuming the ethnicity breakdown was to approximately hold for a full year and that the agency was reasonably representative, that would be 10270/126000 and 15370/1274000. That's 8.2 sales per 100 people and 1.2 sales per 100 people. Or 6.75 times more sales per hundred for people with Chinese sounding surnames. That's quite a big difference, and likely to be a combination of multiple factors.

    Fourth, in Auckland, the going rate of home ownership is 61% at the last census. If that rate were to apply to people with Chinese sounding surnames, that would equate to on average 1 house sale per home owner every 8 years. That is not an outrageous rate of sales. If the home ownership rate for the Census "asian" category (35%) applies to Chinese sounding surnames, then it's a sale very four and a bit years. Still not that outrageous.

    Surprising New Conclusion: House sales to Chinese sounding surnames only seem high against amazingly low rate of house sales among people that don't have Chinese sounding surnames.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 697 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The other kind of phone tapping, in reply to kevinM,

    The machinery used in the exchanges in the 70s and early eighties was really basic. Each pulse would physically cause switches to move to route the call through the exchange.

    The lifts in our building are similarly operated by a good old-fashioned mechanism. My old office was located in what used to be service-only space, and directly across from me were the lift controllers. Approximately the same size as one of those flash side by side two door fridge-freezers, full of electromagnetic switches. Every time something happens with the life, one or more opens or closes. So in the background the entire time was this pattern of clicking. Could also hear the lift motors to a lesser extent, but mostly the clicking.

    (*It also rather resembled the inside of my old pinball machine)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 697 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Market failure in the research world, in reply to Mark C. Wilson,

    What I find amazing is how few obviously successful people do break free in this way.

    But how often are these people publishing with PhD students or earlier career researchers and feel like they can't risk it? I would strongly prefer to go down OA routes, but I am extremely mindful of the potential impact this could have for the people I work with.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 697 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Market failure in the research world, in reply to Mark C. Wilson,

    The big problem is how to get from where we are now, to any one of these alternative futures. It is a big collective action problem, and researchers are pretty decentralized and governed by career imperatives

    I think as long as the Impact Factor (another expensive paid product) of the journal in which you publish is considered an important factor, then the current system will remain.
    There are many other issues with Impact Factors, but while we are focussing on cost to the system: Impact Factors also conserve the idea that the merit of a particular piece of research is related to the journal in which it is published. And so as academics we often spend a truly baffling amount of time shopping our research around trying to get it published in the most prestigious possible place, rather than getting on with the next piece of research.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 697 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The sole party of government, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I still think there is something weird going on with people who vote Goff but party vote National. They need to be understood.

    I've been toying with the idea that both electorate and party votes are effectively person votes. You vote for the person you like in your electorate, and for the person you like in a prime minister. This seems like a plausible mechanism for a disconnect between electorate and party vote. (With more than a little debt to Daniel Kahneman's What You See Is All There Is principle)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 697 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Time to Vote, in reply to Sara Bee,

    I'll delete this later. Hopefully there is no snow for the walk tomorrow.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v361/limegreenz/jvote.jpg

    2 days old

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 697 posts Report Reply

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