0558: "1000 Times"

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby markfiend » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:18 am UTC

Ghona wrote:
BlastOButter42 wrote:How is that dishonest? Do you really think most people don't realize that a million is 1/1000 of a billion?

Not here in England.

Thing is, that's not really true any more. Even the BBC uses billion to mean 109 not 1012 these days.

Grammar and definitions are descriptive, not proscriptive. Once most people use a billion to mean 109, that's what a billion means.
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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby SlyReaper » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:23 am UTC

But it's much more linguistically elegant for billion to mean [imath]10^{12}[/imath]. That way, you have:

[imath]Million^1 = Mono-illion = Million[/imath]
[imath]Million^2 = Bi-illion = Billion[/imath]
[imath]Million^3 = Tri-illion = Trillion[/imath]
[imath]Million^4 = Quad-illion = Quadrillion[/imath]
etc...

On the other hand, what does [imath]10^9[/imath] have to do with the number 2, and what does [imath]10^{12}[/imath] have to do with the number 3?
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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby Anubis » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:35 am UTC

thedufer wrote:
Relssek wrote:With all these large sums of money being thrown around it is hard to imagine what the hell all that money amounts to physically. So to put our national debt in perspective if we were to stack up $11 trillion in $1 denominations we could make approximately three towers of cash from the Earth to the Moon. Thought this was pseudo relative with today's comic.


I think a better way to put the national debt is to realize that we just (mid-January 2009 or so) exceeded the yearly GDP of THE ENTIRE WORLD. Think about that for a minute. (Note: This estimate includes owed social security, etc. which the government doesn't count but really should.)


This is not even close to being true. The national debt does not even exceed the US GDP, much less that of the entire world. And yes, that includes intragovernmental debt, such as money borrowed from the SS trust fund. The national debt is really not something we should be worried about. After all, we owe most of it to ourselves.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby Lawman » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:05 am UTC

When I was young I was always taught that a billion was a million millions. However, from this, I inferred that a trillion would be a billion billions, and so on.

I much favour the long scale, but accept that in industry it's always going to be short scale.

I doubt that SI units will make the situation clearer: not enough people have a full grasp of this.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby chernobyl » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:16 am UTC

Talking about math fails... I read this story yesterday. I don't know if it's true, but it's hilarious :)

(translated from Russian)
F...ing Microsoft!
(My experience of working in the U.S.)

I work as a programmer in an American small business, about 30 employees, making various parts for press machines. I made the mistake of intervening in this morning's conversation about school, so I blurted out the old catch "What is 2 plus 2 times 2". Usually when you do it in your head, you first do the addition and then multiply it and get 8, although the rules of mathematics say that multiplication must be carried out first, so the correct answer is 6. But they called me an idiot because they all got 8... I even wrote it on paper, to make it clear. And then it all began... They said that the rules were "left to right and that's it", so it was 8 and I was an idiot, I should read my textbooks from school again, or maybe just do it on a calculator because I was too stupid!

It scared me that the chief accountant personally brought a calculator and did a demonstration, cheered by the entire company. (Yes, ordinary calculators do it left to right, without complying with the order of actions). I had no scientific calculator with me. OK, I started Microsoft Excel, typed it in - 6 (!) And I stunned the whole company. Work was suspended for two entire hours, they went with the calculator from computer to computer, and were looking and wondering how you get 6 here and 8 there. I got tired of trying to explain, and I went back to my cubicle. It turned out that the biggest surprise was yet to come. At noon the deputy chief accountant came and shook his head, saying: "Now I understand why everyone is bashing Microsoft - even their Excel is buggy and does wrong calculations!

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby 6453893 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:22 am UTC

I wonder how long Randall has deliberated about making a comic that wasn't funny or clever in any way? I'm sure he's wanted to for a lot longer than we'd suspect. It reminds me of the internal debate Fred from Megatokyo had many years back, though obviously that's a very different comic.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby drazen » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:30 am UTC

Didn't we get into this mess because people didn't know how to spend money any better than the government?


No... we got into it for a number of reasons. One, you don't create wealth by exporting it all (outsourcing! Wars!) - U.S. growth should have been flat during the Bush years. But, to make the numbers look good and keep people happy, we artificially lowered interest rates. But there still weren't many good investments, so investors with all that easy money looked to the next best thing: commodities speculation and real estate. So lots of money got dumped into places it really shouldn't have been. Throw in the government requiring lenders to lend to losers who can't pay it back ("community reinvestment,") - banks securitizing away the risks (that's the whole point of MBS) - and then, inexplicably, turning around and buying the kind of instruments they knew were bad, well, the banks and insurers all go bust when all this happens on a grand scale. When real estate was going up by 10% a year and salaries were going up by 3% a year (if that), eventually there was a line where it wasn't sustainable. Last year, we hit that line like a brick wall.


these bonuses are part of legally binding contracts


The outrage is this: as far as I know, almost no ordinary taxpayers in the country wanted the bailouts in the first place, certainly not to the tune of trillions of dollars we don't have. We had them shoved down our throat. Had AIG failed, they'd have been in bankruptcy court. Now I don't know whether or not those bonuses would have been paid, reduced, or eliminated in such a procedure, but had the company taken the normal path there would NOT have been a guarantee that those people would ever get paid. Contract or not. I'm also not sure if these are company-wide or only to people who were actually making money. Me, I'm more curious where the hell the other $169.835 billion went!

having a government which fails to see the wisdom of cash under mattresses actually works out to be a good thing.


Not entirely, as inflation has been eating away workers' purchasing power for decades as their real wages have not been keeping up. Obviously you can't have everyone hoarding cash, but right now it's the best thing you can do for yourself. Pay off debt, hold cash, try to survive the calamity. Everyone's either broke or scared of going broke - why WOULD they spend money they didn't have to? Unfortunately, we're now consumers, not producers... so guess what happens when we suddenly stop consuming.

Great time to be rich, though. Imagine the bargains to be had if you actually have money!

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby SANAFABICH » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:33 am UTC

As if $165 million wasn't high enough on its own regardless of the bailout

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby Anubis » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:36 am UTC

Holding cash during a period of inflation is a terrible idea. It's like throwing money out the window.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby ChocoboMog123 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:42 am UTC

SlyReaper wrote:On the other hand, what does [imath]10^9[/imath] have to do with the number 2, and what does [imath]10^{12}[/imath] have to do with the number 3?

1,000,000 - one comma (or grouping of numbers) after the thousands
1,000,000,000 - two
and so on ^_^

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby Ralith The Third » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:44 am UTC

BlastOButter42 wrote:How is that dishonest? Do you really think most people don't realize that a million is 1/1000 of a billion?

They're the american voters.

These are the people who don't care what the policy is as long as the president is dressed nice.

These are the people who voted in a democrat during an economic crisis.

These are the people who need warnings to keep running chainsaws away from their testiculars!
Omni.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby tahrey » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:49 am UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:
toysbfun wrote:There's still the issue of, "If you ran your company into the ground and now require a bailout to avoid crashing the world economy, you do not deserve any sort of bonus."

Yeah... As much as the media needs to be ripped a new one for their style of reporting sometimes, I'm having a hard time justifying using this as the example. For this reason plus what BlastOButter said. It's not that people don't realize the scale; it's that once you get into the realm of any number that has "-illion" in it, the first impression people get is it's a huge fucking number, which in this case is really all anyone needs to know,

You know what? No. Just no. I know this has become an ironic catchphrase here, but NOT COOL, NOT FUNNY, NOT A GOOD COMIC. What's next, a comic making fun of MSNBC for making a big deal about Bayer selling drugs tainted with HIV, saying that only one in however-many doses contained the virus? Again: NOT COOL, NOT FUNNY, NOT A GOOD COMIC, and NOT A SMART CARTOONIST.


There's always the option that you could stop missing the point and maybe just GTFO

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby Gero » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:52 am UTC

Nasaniaru wrote:This just makes me think what I've been thinking for the past year or two, "People are Stupid."
Men in Black was right now that I think about it.
"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals"


And that is why democracy is such a screw-up. All the smart persons together make up one stupid people who rule as a majority. I bet those Iraqis are so glad the US bought them democracy.

By the way, why don't we just have the news people use scientific notation? What with long and short scale and whatnot. the word billion is basically useless. It could be anything really. 170x10^9 is clearly significantly more that 165x10^6 - no problem there. Oh wait how stupid of me. I answered my own question. News people......
Last edited by Gero on Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:00 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby tahrey » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:57 am UTC

Ralith The Third wrote:
BlastOButter42 wrote:How is that dishonest? Do you really think most people don't realize that a million is 1/1000 of a billion?

They're the american voters.

These are the people who don't care what the policy is as long as the president is dressed nice.

These are the people who voted in a democrat during an economic crisis.

These are the people who need warnings to keep running chainsaws away from their testiculars!


Point of note 1: I think the standard of dress mattered little as you could hardly have accused George Bush, John McCain, or Sarah Palin of looking scruffy. It was more a demonstration of critical thinking and not having a head in a box of sand. Or thinking mainly about a military mental-box currently engaged in places full of sand.

Point of note 2: Colour me mistaken if I am, but I seem to remember last time you had a democrat president, he ended his term with good unemployment figures and a significant budget surplus. Not exactly the case now, is it?

Point of note 3: The word is "testicles". And not knowing who the person was that prompted a certain chainsaw manufacturer to add that infamous and rather odd warning, or indeed their gender (the warning actually worded "genitals")* much less which way they vote, that's one hell of an ad hominem.

Point of note 4: There's a lot of people who are not good with maths, or looking things up, or engaging in much deep thought on economic matters. That's how we got into this mess in the first place, and it's not a purely American concern, much as I like to bash the less mentally adept members of your society at times. We had the Northern Rock stupidity for example, and miscommunications that led to our local authorities sinking multi-millions into Icelandic banks at the same time as everyone else was warning they were about to go to the wall.

Sub-note: Although Britain ratified use of the "short" scale back in the 70s (not long after we moved from irregular pounds-shilling-pence currency to metric) as the official one for all documentation, people STILL get confused over it here ~35 years later. Also, that one letter difference may be difficult to spot when the written and likely spoken emphasis will be on the significant figures and their visual/verbal similarity, rather than the differing magnitude of scale. (Hence the Verizon reference again). Although I think the long one makes more sense in certain ways, and I like it for the oldfashionedness and all, it seems a bit more logical in the modern world... you don't keep switching between two different naming schemes (-illion, -illiard) as you move up the scale, for example. The only slight disconnect with it is that, for proper uniformity, you should be starting with 1,000 being the unitary "million"... if Bi- means two, then what is 1,000,000 "two" of? Shift everything down by 10^6, and it'll be A-OK.
(These last two aren't a disagreement with you... more an amplification and redirection)

* in fact given certain stage shows for the Jim Rose circus, Rammstein, etc, I'd be inclined to believe they were disclaiming any responsibility for injuries to brave/reckless female performers should the spinning sawblade slip from their steel-plated underwear...
Last edited by tahrey on Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:08 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby frr » Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:07 pm UTC

One could argue that the bonus payments only take up such a small fraction of the bailout because the bailout is so huge.
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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby Ralith The Third » Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:07 pm UTC

tahrey wrote:
Ralith The Third wrote:
BlastOButter42 wrote:How is that dishonest? Do you really think most people don't realize that a million is 1/1000 of a billion?

They're the american voters.

These are the people who don't care what the policy is as long as the president is dressed nice.

These are the people who voted in a democrat during an economic crisis.

These are the people who need warnings to keep running chainsaws away from their testiculars!


Point of note 1: I think the standard of dress mattered little as you could hardly have accused George Bush, John McCain, or Sarah Palin of looking scruffy. It was more a demonstration of critical thinking and not having a head in a box of sand. Or thinking mainly about a military mental-box currently engaged in places full of sand.

Point of note 2: Colour me mistaken if I am, but I seem to remember last time you had a democrat president, he ended his term with good unemployment figures and a significant budget surplus. Not exactly the case now, is it?

Point of note 3: The word is "testicles". And not knowing who the person was that prompted a certain chainsaw manufacturer to add that infamous and rather odd warning, or indeed their gender (the warning actually worded "genitals")* much less which way they vote, that's one hell of an ad hominem.

* in fact given certain stage shows for the Jim Rose circus, Rammstein, etc, I'd be inclined to believe they were disclaiming any responsibility for injuries to certain female performers should the spinning sawblade slip from their steel-plated underwear...


P1: Several people I know supported Obama just because he's black, or Clinton, just because she's a woman, or either for their dress sense, without any attention to policies.
P2: And the last time we had a democratic president during an economic crisis was during the great depression. FDR may have done well in the war, but when it came to economics, he wasn't so brilliant. (NRA, AAA, etc... price fixing = bad.)
Admittedly, he did good with the bank-closing, and FDIC, but our banks are already insured, and the people DO have faith in the banks.

hold on, forgot P3

P3: I admit the spelling error, but seriously- we have to put warning labels for obvious things on everything.
Last edited by Ralith The Third on Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:09 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
Omni.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby Gero » Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:09 pm UTC

Tahrey, being a smarass only works if you can pull it off. Correcting grammar that was left wrong on purpose as a rhetorical device is usually not effective in this. The point of the chainsaw warning is that it was put there for Americans. So notwithstanding your protest, Ralith's argument still holds water. These are the American voters. How stupid must they be to vote for the stupidest one of them all? Twice?

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby tahrey » Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:20 pm UTC

Ralith The Third wrote:
P1: Several people I know supported Obama just because he's black, or Clinton, just because she's a woman, or either for their dress sense, without any attention to policies.
P2: And the last time we had a democratic president during an economic crisis was during the great depression. FDR may have done well in the war, but when it came to economics, he wasn't so brilliant. (NRA, AAA, etc... price fixing = bad.)
Admittedly, he did good with the bank-closing, and FDIC, but our banks are already insured, and the people DO have faith in the banks.



Pp1: Fair enough point, people do that - but carrying on the idea, how many others supported McCain for similarly vapid reasons?
Pp2: You didn't have the early 90s recession same as us, then? Slick Willy may not have had a mega crisis to deal with, true, but didn't start from the firmest ground.

Afraid I don't know enough other American financial vs political history to properly argue out the rest of this, though. I don't know how well the last Republican administration to face a major crisis did; only that the outgoing one didn't seem to even know how to handle prosperity - or preparing for the inevitable downturn that comes as part and parcel of economic cycles (the sort of thing our Mr Brown thought himself invincible to until the world turned and proved him badly wrong) in a sensible manner.
And FDR may have been pretty rubbish at it, and done some dumb things, but as far as my limited history knowledge goes, that's the first time anyone had experienced such a widespread economic panic event, the situation Wall Street had gotten into was fairly novel. We have the good fortune currently of having that example from history to warn and inform us. History of course has yet to judge how we come out of this. 20 years time we may look back on the Obama administration as being a horrific mistake, worse than Bush. I doubt it, but I dare not predict that it won't be the case.

I may be being too general. Might be a silly thing (ad hominem on my own part) to judge the future performance of a particular political party in these things on past performance of many years previous. A lot of someone's own personality goes into a thing like this, so they may not be representative of the party ideal as a whole, or that of their successor. But this time round, the proposition (if we're to believe something a politician said in an election year...) of actually doing something to try and actively pull the economy back from the brink, and to impose slightly more discipline upon the culprits to try and prevent a re-run, sounded a bit more sensible to my ear than what was largely "more of the same, and stronger" on the other side.

Late edit: Gero, I thought it might have been a joke, but I took that chance.
And yes ... they voted in GWB twice. First time, it may have been "fool me once". Who knows what it was the second. There was a lot of debate re: poll fixing etc, if you remember. Maybe it was poor turnout/apathy amongst the blue team - there was definitely a lot of high profile activism this time was there not?

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby lihan161051 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:45 pm UTC

Flewellyn wrote:
BlastOButter42 wrote:How is that dishonest? Do you really think most people don't realize that a million is 1/1000 of a billion?


In the US? I would wager a large number of people don't know.


The majority of people I've met don't know. Especially when it comes to the difference between parts per million, parts per billion, and so on. (My favorite illustration of that one is: one ppm of the earth's population is a town of about 6,000 (maybe more now), one ppb is me and 5 friends, and one ppt is somewhere around the mass of, say, my middle finger.) I actually had to explain to a shipping carrier once that an analytical gas standard cylinder from NIST, to them, was just the purest nitrogen they would ever see in their lives, and the scary sounding toxic stuff printed on the label was at lower concentrations than they were actually breathing at the moment.

Flewellyn wrote:Regardless, the scale involved is much easier to see if you use the same units.


But that would make *sense*, and we can't have that, can we? :p (It would also mean using units like the joule in everyday conversation. Which I would actually be in favor of. :D )

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby 6453893 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:49 pm UTC

Ralith The Third wrote:P1: Several people I know supported Obama just because he's black, or Clinton, just because she's a woman, or either for their dress sense, without any attention to policies.
P2: And the last time we had a democratic president during an economic crisis was during the great depression. FDR may have done well in the war, but when it came to economics, he wasn't so brilliant. (NRA, AAA, etc... price fixing = bad.)
Admittedly, he did good with the bank-closing, and FDIC, but our banks are already insured, and the people DO have faith in the banks.

hold on, forgot P3

P3: I admit the spelling error, but seriously- we have to put warning labels for obvious things on everything.


P1: That doesn't mean all or even most Americans vote that way, just the "several people you know". I'm sorry you choose to keep such stupid company.

2: Fair point.

3: You don't seriously believe that, do you?

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby Lewton » Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:04 pm UTC

chernobyl wrote:Talking about math fails... I read this story yesterday. I don't know if it's true, but it's hilarious :)


That story is scary

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby tina-mat » Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:12 pm UTC

I did not enjoy this comic. While the video that someone linked to was pretty funny, just referencing it isn't. As for the comic, apparently the fact that statistics can be misleading is news to Mr. Munroe.
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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby notgm » Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:36 pm UTC

if the daughter is loose, the amounts don't matter, we're getting borked either way.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby dantes » Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:39 pm UTC

Without getting into a politics discussion (America is ignorant of policy and candidates stances on them; get over it and be the change that you want to see in the world), or an American school system argument (people get through it easily and ignorantly; again, get over it or do something to change it - be a teacher or some shit), I thought this comic... and the Don Quixote one... was awesome.

The point is that there's a lot more to these bailouts than some paltry (in context, mind you) bonuses - much of that money is as much a contractual obligation as any other debt, and must be paid as such. Those were already negotiated for '08. Start bitching about it in December if they stay the same, but not now. A breach of contract lawsuit would be more expensive. What we need to focus on (also) is where the other 99.9% of the money went to.

Also, this illustrates the headline effect - I barely even registered the point of the comic immediately, and when someone sees 2 numbers that similar in a headline, they think 'Damn, all of this bailout money just went to bonuses' instead of, 'That's a hell of a bonus, but I'd sure like to know where the other 164 billion went.'

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby abstractpotato » Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:48 pm UTC

The 0.002 dollars == 0.002 cents thing still makes me cringe every time I remember it.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby eviloatmeal » Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:51 pm UTC

I still have nightmares about that Verizon thing. :(
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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby Evilagram » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:00 pm UTC

I find this comic freakishly scary/true/funny because my dad is a former programmer for AIG Financial corp (AKA, the guys who did it). He is now technically employed by the government after they seized the company during the dissolution. He has a contract guaranteeing him work for 2 years (one now), but he told me this morning that this may be his last day on the job.

Apparently they are limiting his yearly salary (which paid out at the end of the year just recently) to $250,000, an arbitrarily defined number, apparently based on a notion that the employees are earning too much and need to earn less for their greedy actions. They're also thinking of taxing the amount he just earned, 100%, meaning that he earns nothing for the last year's worth of work he did. The motion is being voted on today by Congress, and my dad says that they're already heavily in favor of taxing the entire company's salaries completely! Apparently Congress instated a president within the company that is basically a puppet for them to make sure the company doesn't do anything drastic until the issue is resolved. If my dad tells any of this information to a reporter today (apparently he's being questioned), he's fired. End of story for him. But if this doesn't get out somehow, my dad, and all the employees in the company are screwed!

My dad pins blame for the failure of the company on the change in the way taxes are recorded. In 2007 they implemented new standards for recording the taxes of a very liquid financial process that does not have a definite tax value. He also claims that his salary should not be arbitrarily defined on a notion of earning too much or too little, but instead on free market forces. My dad has worked in this job for nearly my entire life, and if this motion in congress passes, him, and a bunch of other people will be stripped of their salaries, and jobs. He doesn't have a backup job, he's not really sure where he could get a job at all, given his skillset. I'm going to be screwed college-wise if his job goes under. The entire thing is a gigantic, horrible mess!

I'm not sure if I have all the information here, all that I'm sure of is that we're in a shitload of trouble for something that we didn't do (he's a programmer, not a banker). I think it's terrible that Obama (My dad is blaming Obama, and the rest of senate and congress, we are democrats, we voted for him) is focussing on punishing a "wrong doing" (my dad claims that even the sub-prime mortgage ordeal was going good before the changes in tax records) instead of making more jobs for America. They're seriously focussing on taking away some people's salaries and jobs (some innocent, others perhaps not so innocent) as a scapegoat for the rest of our damn economy!

I'm sorry for going so off-topic, just I need to say this somewhere, because it's all I can do to save my dad.

If I mixed anything up, please tell me, I want to know. I don't want to spread misinformation. I just want to help my dad.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby Wearyman » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:00 pm UTC

While I find the Media malfeasance re: "Incorrectly explaining the proper monetary values involved" to be a bad thing, there is much worse going on in the clear hypocrisy of Barney Frank sitting there lambasting AIG execs for following legal contracts that were signed well before the AIG collapse and that Congress was well informed of LONG before the Govt. buy-in on AIG.

In the meantime, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, ALSO rescued by the taxpayers of this country and managed by Barney Frank, are giving the EXACT SAME BONUSES to it's own execs. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! The hypocrisy by the current crop of congresscritters just boggles the mind.

Of course, in most of the media this has gone completely unreported. (Thank you WSJ for actually reporting it!) So not only is the media misrepresenting the severity of the AIG problem, they are ignoring the clear hypocrisy by one of the major players in the AIG kabuki theater now being played out on Capitol Hill.

Disgusting.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby nanotube » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:09 pm UTC

A "bonus" is supposed to be given for good performance.

When the company tanks so much that it requires a govenment bailout, the executives clearly have /not/ achieved "good performance", and actually have achieved "exceptionally poor performance" so giving them bonuses, regardless of how they fare in size comparison to the amount of the bailout, is dishonest.

So, the issue here is not bonus size relative to bailout, but bonus size relative to nothing, given the shitty performance of the firm(s) in question.

And to clarify: if it's not "performance-contingent" it's /not/ a bonus, it's salary. So for those who say "well, it's in the contract" - still dishonest to call it a bonus, if the guy's getting it whether he runs the firm into the ground or not.
Last edited by nanotube on Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:14 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby 6453893 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:13 pm UTC

dantes wrote:Without getting into a politics discussion (America is ignorant of policy and candidates stances on them; get over it and be the change that you want to see in the world),


God I'm so sick of people doing this. I do largely agree that American politics have enormous problems, but I don't know where all these morons got the idea that it's okay to say "All people of _____ nationality are stupid and annoying and smell bad but I don't want to get into that argument so people of _____ nationality can't rebut this".

You don't get to make ignorant, blanket statements about 300 million people and then also pretend that you aren't being a discriminatory fuck. It doesn't work like that. Watch:

"Blacks are ignorant of policy and candidates stances on them; get over it and be the change that you want to see in the world"
"Jews are ignorant of policy and candidates stances on them; get over it and be the change that you want to see in the world"
"Poor people ignorant of policy and candidates stances on them; get over it and be the change that you want to see in the world"

Just because you said America in stead of one of those three does not make it any less inflammatory, or any more acceptable.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby stringph » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:21 pm UTC

This is my first post here.

It is also the first time ever that I have read an XKCD and enjoyed no aspects of it whatsoever. Did Mr. Monroe somehow stumble into a mind-meld with Chris Muir and/or Bruce Tinsley? Where was the sarcasm, the math (oh, 'multiplying by 1000', wow), the romance, the unusual humor?

You could quite easily, every day, write a strip on the theme 'the media is dishonest because they don't report things the way I want them to.' That's the entire content of the strip right there. But there is no possible way things could be reported with perfect fairness and objectivity, because that would require the inclusion of an infinite sequence of facts. Or at least back to the foundation of the Federal Reserve. For example, the second panel is arguably 'dishonest' because it directly compares a large fraction of the entire balance sheet of a company with a payment to a small proportion of its employees. (I said arguably - start arguing and you prove the point.)

The other thing Monroe may not have reflected on is that the people who run the media don't care two spits about what people like him think - i.e. people with approximately 14 times as much education and 73 times as much mathematical literacy as the average viewer. There is no way a national media composed of large profit-seeking corporations is ever going to report finance in a way he - or his readers - including me - will like. Why is Monroe trying to lecture them about 'honesty'? I bet Rupert Murdoch is shivering in his shoes right now.
Last edited by stringph on Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:24 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby nanotube » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:23 pm UTC

6453893 wrote:"Poor people ignorant of policy and candidates stances on them; get over it and be the change that you want to see in the world"


well, to be fair... this last one actually /is/ statistically true, inasmuch as if you are poor, you have a hell of a lot less time to devote to discretionary things like politics, over non-discretionary things like earning enough money to eat, thus producing the "ignorant on policy and candidates" bit. I mean... what do you think is the percentage of people living close to the poverty line who have enough competence in [at least] intermediate economics to understand and evaluate any bit of economic policy? who have enough grounding in world history to think about social policy on anything more than an emotional level? sufficient understanding of mathematics to tell the difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents? (just throwing that last one in to stay "on topic" :))

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby 6453893 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:29 pm UTC

Statistically, it may be the case that most impoverished people are ill-informed about politics.

That doesn't make it ethical to say that all of them are ignorant, and that they should "get over it".

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby cburke » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:31 pm UTC

Nice comic, well-timed. That is the impression that they create. It's a study in emphasis and use/non-use of clarifications when they do their stories.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby WK1 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:41 pm UTC

I completely disagree. There is no reason for the news to give a basic math lesson every time they use numbers. That would just be silly and a waste of time. Too often the news and TV in general cue for the lowest common denominator, and it is a waste of time for the rest of us. Anybody with half a brain (most people) can tell the difference between million and billion, and dollars and cents. There are plenty of resources that demonstrate the context of large sums of money, and we don't need that mixed up with news. Math is cool, but math is not news. Math is old.

What the news is doing wrong, is that they are reporting this AIG story, repeatedly, with no new information. How is it that they think we will continue to watch it?

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby nanotube » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:47 pm UTC

6453893 wrote:Statistically, it may be the case that most impoverished people are ill-informed about politics.

That doesn't make it ethical to say that all of them are ignorant, and that they should "get over it".


i'd argue that there are no "ethics" involved when you make a generalization [which hurts nobody] for the sake of brevity. especially when it is generally understood that any statement involving humans of the type "all blah are blahblah" is a generalization, rather than an argument specifically saying that exactly 100% of blahs are blahblah. it's just a fact on the ground that language gets used that way, and it's rather a losing battle to try to fight it. (remember when blogs first started in earnest, and some people were like "gah, stop making up words, there's no such thing" and well, here we are, and we have blogs, and the word is in dictionaries and everything.)

that said, i'd agree that it's not productive (in this particular case) to say that they should "get over it", since the poor are not going to magically acquire the extra time needed to do so. still, it's not "unethical" - it is simply an impossibility (or, if you want to split generalization hairs - an extreme improbability) for them to "get over it" just like that.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby kallios » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:52 pm UTC

It may only be 30 seconds but they're still with your daughter.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby H2SO4 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:53 pm UTC

bray wrote:In particular, since different people pay different amounts of taxes, why would the same amount of money come out of each person's pocket? So how much comes out of YOUR pocket will depend on who YOU are. If you're Bill Gates then it will be a hell of a lot more than $8. If you're a typical person, well, considering the bottom 50% of taxpayers by income pay around 3.3% of total federal income taxes, it will be a lot less than $8.


Around $8 would be what the mid-range pays, assuming that there is enough money in the upper-class to balance out the lack of the lower-class.

bray wrote:Virtually no one who actually studies how economies work thinks that what you're saying makes any sense.


So printing more money (which is what Obama is doing) is doing good for the economy?

bray wrote:What people know to do with their money these days is hide it under their mattresses.


I didn't say "know what to do with your money". I said "know how to spend your money". It may seem like a small difference, but it's not. If money is to be spent, the government doesn't care jack squat where your money is going (hence pig odor research). It's like this. There are two guys, Fred and Bob. Fred has an item and wants money. Bob has money and wants the item. The two willingly exchange. Who won, who lost? Trick question. They both won. Now, same situation, except there's a third guy let's call him....Guv. So Guv comes into the deal, grabs Bob's money and demands Fred changes his item so it will have certain features. Then the money is exchanged. Who won, who lost? Another trick question. Everyone lost. Since Fred had to change his item, the cost of it went up so Guv took more money from Bob to pay for it. Not only that, but Bob didn't even want the features that Guv demanded. If Bob did, he would've found an item that did have the features. If enough people actually wanted those features, Fred wouldn't have had a business if he kept selling the item without the features and would've changed his item if he was smart.

bray wrote:Is it costing a lot of money? Yes. But the question any time you're spending money is not "How much is it?" but "Is it worth it?". Is it worth it? Huge budget deficits do suck. But Great Depressions suck even more.


Let's see... New Zealand is doing the exact opposite of us (note the date on that article) and their dollar is on the rise. Now while I know the whole correlation/causation thing, we have enough countries doing similar things to the US

bray wrote:Oh yes, I'm sure Obama has his death squads on his way to your house right now.


Well, he'll start the personal attacks against me, that's for sure.
But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.

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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby Darth Eru » Fri Mar 20, 2009 2:59 pm UTC

Just to weigh in with my 0.002 cents, for some people (such as myself), the first version is actually the more honest. When I first read $170,000 Million, I automatically translated it to $170 Million, because I always expect the highest order of magnitude to be written after the number. I don't even remember noticing that there were extra zeroes on the end of it.

So when I read the comic, I saw 170 Billion bailout/165 Million bonus vs 170 Million bailout/165 Million bonus. When I finally realized my mistake (and that was only from reading this discussion), I felt suitably dumb, but I also think that it's reasonable to expect others to make the same mistake. If you're just skimming, you might expect that there's only three important digits, and skip any extras as a decimal point, so you read the first three digits and then the magnitude, and as long as you have an appreciation for the differences in magnitudes, it all makes perfect sense. But as soon as you translate one number to a different magnitude, people like me (re: stupid) can miss your meaning entirely.

On the plus side, I heard the 0.002 cents/dollars phone call as a result of this, and while listening to it I died a little inside.
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Re: "1000 Times" discussion

Postby 6453893 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 3:12 pm UTC

nanotube wrote:for the sake of brevity. especially when it is generally understood that any statement involving humans of the type "all blah are blahblah" is a generalization, rather than an argument specifically saying that exactly 100% of blahs are blahblah. it's just a fact on the ground that language gets used that way, and it's rather a losing battle to try to fight it. (remember when blogs first started in earnest, and some people were like "gah, stop making up words, there's no such thing" and well, here we are, and we have blogs, and the word is in dictionaries and everything.)


This was not a generalization for sake of brevity. My original point was that he spent A PARAGRAPH piling on Anti-American slander, and then wrapped it up with "but I'm not going to get into this argument" as if that precludes anyone from responding to his ridiculous libel. Everybody generalizes (see what I did there), but this was a protracted verbal assault that went well beyond the limits of a regular generalization.


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