Re: A Question

1

I'm unaware that such an axiom exists.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:22 AM
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I don't think the axiom in the OP is actually true. It's true that growth businesses are expected to increase their profitability every year, because, well, they're still growth businesses and they are typically valued based on that expected growth (i.e., they are valued at levels that are not justified based on their existing profit levels). But mature businesses are all about protecting profit streams, or developing new profit streams in order to replace profit streams that are drying up, etc.--all in the name of maintaining existing profits. (I mean, sure, it would be considered great if they can keep actually growing their profits, but if they are mature companies then almost by definition that is not really expected to be possible, at least not long-term.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:22 AM
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Yeah. Blue chip stocks and utilities are different from e.g. tech stocks.

Anyway, in the long run there won't be any economic profit. Or so they say.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:26 AM
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Almost no companies have proftits, in the economics 101 sense. (Just accounting profits).


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:38 AM
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Hooray!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:38 AM
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The modest slug of stocks I own has to be worth a whole lot more 15 years from now than it is now. And people 20 years younger than me have to have the money to buy it. (And my house, for a bunch more than I paid for it.) I get that value and profit aren't perfectly related in the Great Casino, but they're not completely unrelated either.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:45 AM
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So "increase in profitability" could be a neutral way to say "keeping profitable, with inflation"?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:47 AM
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But the distinction isn't clear-cut what is and isn't a growth stock/asset - wasn't one of the reason for all the newspaper layoffs (like in the nineties, before Craigslist became as prominent in the calculations) that they weren't increasing their profit?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:48 AM
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Insofar as there is an axiom, it would have to do with growth in sales/revenue, rather than profit. Profitability is a guide to how sustainable that growth is.

Theoretically, growth in sales/revenue is a sign you are producing stuff that there is more demand for than before the delta. Growth is the fetish of equity/royalty investors because it's generally how they make money.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:52 AM
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But the distinction isn't clear-cut what is and isn't a growth stock/asset

Well, look, sure--if you think a company still has a lot of growth potential, and I don't, you'll pay more for the stock than I would, so I'll sell it and you'll buy it. And then, at the price you paid, you may have an expectation that the profits will increase. Given that people will generally have a variety of expectations about any particular company's future growth profile, and the people who are investing in the company are the people who are most optimistic about that growth profile, it's not hard to see why there would be a general bias in the market towards expecting future profit growth. The people who hold each particular stock are the people who are most optimistic about that particular company.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:54 AM
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The winners curse, basically. If you bought something, you were the person in the market willing to pay the highest price for it, which means chances are you overestimated its value.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:56 AM
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I own some stock in a giant evil megacorporation that lost 95% of its value during the financial crisis and is now up to about 25% of that prior value. They also reduced dividends by 90% after the crisis. Yes, I need to sell it and diversify. But my real question is, why did they suddenly triple the dividend again this year?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:58 AM
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The winners curse, basically. If you bought something, you were the person in the market willing to pay the highest price for it, which means chances are you overestimated its value.

No, not really--that would be true if there were just one share of stock to be had, which was being auctioned off to the highest bidder. There are millions of shares, and thousands of sellers. Most people buying shares would likely have been theoretically willing to pay more (and many people selling may have been theoretically willing to sell for less).


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:59 AM
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Absolutely true, I was oversimplifying.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:01 AM
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12: Bank of America? I have that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:02 AM
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One axiom is that return has to be higher than cost of capital. Cost of capital is poorly defined but it basically means opportunity cost. For shareholders, the opportunity cost is the return offered by the broader market. A company investing in a project at below typical market returns is shortchanging the shareholders.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:06 AM
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14: Sorry. Of course.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:13 AM
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10: Back in the day utilities and the telephone company actually paid reliable dividends. what you're paying for (theoretically) is future income. My landlord isn't growing like crazy in terms of the number of properties he rents out, but he does sometimes raise the rent when the demand seems to justify it, and his properties are worth what they are because of that income stream.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:16 AM
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16: Empirically, the cost of capital has very little explanatory power for why firms invest.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:22 AM
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18: Am I insane for thinking that closed-end income funds, like those of PIMCO and Allianz, basically serve this purpose today?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:24 AM
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10: Yes, and then when that overoptimism doesn't pan out, we get layoffs and other short-termist methods to bring reality in line with expectations.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:49 AM
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20: I don't know.

What I don't get is why anyone would buy a regular S&P 500 mutual fund when they could buy an ETF?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 10:27 AM
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Everyone is wrong. The real axiom is that earnings per share should be continuously increasing. That's different from "profitability", which is generally used as a synonym for margins. No one expects those to increase indefinitely. Also different from profits. A staid utility might have stable profits, but investors would expect it to throw off a lot of cash through dividends or (more likely) share buy-backs, the latter of which increases EPS.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 10:46 AM
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The real axiom is that earnings per share should be continuously increasing.

EPS is basically what I meant by "profitability", and I disagree that this is a general axiom.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 10:51 AM
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or (more likely) share buy-backs, the latter of which increases EPS.

But if, as Warren Buffett has occasionally thought, your company's stock is overvalued why would you spend cash on the shares when you could use the capital more profitably somewhere else?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 10:52 AM
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There is an argument that EPS focus is naive, because it focuses on an accounting fiction rather than cash flow, which is what investors are really interested in at the the end of the day. Management can increase EPS, for example, by borrowing money and investing it in assets that earn a below-market return. But the primacy of ever-increasing EPS is nevertheless is an embedded assumption in most financial journalism. Sell-side equities analysis tends to be more sophisticated than financial journalism, focusing on EBITDA per share, which is a rough proxy for cash flow if you can ignore capital investments and changes in working capital.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 10:55 AM
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It's reverse psychology. If you are buying your own stock, it must be undervalued so I should buy your stock.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 10:55 AM
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if, as Warren Buffett has occasionally thought, your company's stock is overvalued why would you spend cash on the shares when you could use the capital more profitably somewhere else?

Information asymmetry. Share buyback signals that management thinks the shares are cheap. And what management ever admits that its stock is overvalued?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 10:57 AM
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How was I pwned by Moby Hick on that?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 10:58 AM
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I once had dinner in Warren Buffet's favorite restaurant.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 11:01 AM
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30: I still miss Ross'.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 11:15 AM
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Was that the one with the giant cow statue?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 11:18 AM
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I think the cow statue was at a place called Hoss, not Ross.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 11:27 AM
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Ross' had a giant cow's head on its sign.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 12:04 PM
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You're thinking of Anthony's.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 12:06 PM
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Maybe. I don't know that I ever actually ate at either.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 12:08 PM
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Sell-side equities analysis tends to be more sophisticated than financial journalism, focusing on EBITDA per share, which is a rough proxy for cash flow if you can ignore capital investments and changes in working capital.

It's not really a substitute for cashflow (after all, there's FCF if you're interested in that), especially for leveraged companies. It's a substitute for underlying profitability.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 12:12 PM
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22. I thought that mutual funds are better regulted than ETFs. Probably a wash for domestic index funds vs equivalent big ETF. But for anything else, I'm pretty interested in knowing that the audit schedule and reporting requirements minimize surprises, especially in the middle of a crash when the entity is liquidating quickly to accomodate clients cashng out.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 12:21 PM
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38: Mutual funds are only traded once a day. I remember that this was manipulated at one point.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 12:37 PM
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There's a mutual fund (I forget the name) whose only holding is shares in an S&P 500 ETF. Running that fund has got to be the greatest job on Earth. I assume the fund manager is actually a monkey, but a human who plays Candy Crush Saga all day is also a possibility.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 12:41 PM
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Irving Kahn just died at 109, so we can't ask him for his opinion as someone who was working on Wall Street on Black Friday.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 12:47 PM
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what investors are really interested in at the the end of the day is whether some bigger fool will com along and pay a whole bunch more for the asset

We need an ever expanding supply of fools.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 12:54 PM
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I could establish a charity to provide Four Loko to Juggalos, but I think we need fools with money.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:03 PM
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||

There is a particular kind of techie smugness that is really annoying*.

I was just reading, I banned email at my company and all of the individual points are reasonable but the tone is just offputting.

* I'd describe it as, "I just made a change, it's working well for me so far, I can't believe that you're so stupid that you haven't done it already."

|>


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:12 PM
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||

Since we're past the 40 comments mark, allow me to take this opportunity to state for the record that Papers 3 for Windows is abject garbage and everyone involved with its development should be taken out and shot immediately.

That is all.

|>


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:21 PM
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46

I just remembered that the canonical answer to the question in the OP was given by Elmer Fudd.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:32 PM
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47

I have my retirement contributions automatically invested by Fidelity and by TIAA-CREF. When I was picking my funds I think I basically said "I want to retire in X year," and went with whatever was suggested. Questions: 1) Do I actually need to pay any attention to what my money is doing, and if so, what kind of attention? 2) If I happen to lose my job at this state university, what do I do with the funds? (I'm already vested.) Do they just sit there until I retire?


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:38 PM
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1) No! We discussed this before -- money is like water -- you have to ignore it so that it will do what you want it to do.

2) Probably. You have to pay tax on it if you withdraw it early. Perhaps there is an exception that someone with actual knowledge would know about.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:44 PM
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47: I read somewhere (maybe here) that a Vanguard study found that people who completely ignored the existence of their retirement accounts actually did better than those who actively managed things.

Disclaimer: I haven't actually seen the study.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:45 PM
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47: The target funds I looked at didn't not seem great to me. I think some index funds are not a bad idea. I actually invested in a corporate bond fund that did well.

I did buy one fund that would take lower investment amounts which was balanced.

Just stay away from load funds.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:49 PM
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But mostly, I leave it alone. (Wellington funds marketed by Vanguard.)


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:49 PM
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48.2 -- When I left my last job, I had to roll over my 401(k) to an IRA. Which wasn't a taxable event. That was private sector, and it was the plan rules -- you had to be an employee or partner in the law firm to participate -- that drove it, not any policy of my firm.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:52 PM
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44: I use email for nearly all the things I'm not supposed to use it for.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:54 PM
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52: You could have created a Keogh.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:55 PM
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or a SEP, but ocntribution limits on a Keogh are higher.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:57 PM
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47: When I log in to TIAA-CREF it shows me the total from both the account from my previous postdoc employer and the one from my current employer. So I think effectively they're automatically rolled into one account, if you continue to go with TIAA-CREF or Vanguard.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:58 PM
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57

Oops. Fidelity. Presumably the same sort of thing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 1:59 PM
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49.1: I think snarkout said that here when I mentioned having lost my login password to one of my accounts.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 2:02 PM
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Neo-liberal collaborationist slimeI have two accounts at the same company from two different universities. I was told to keep them separate in case I wanted to start drawing from the one while still working at the other. Or something like that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 2:03 PM
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56: I'm not sure that's true. The boyfriend has a similar situation, and I think we need to do some minor paperwork to make them a single account. (One has a very small amount compared to the other.)


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 2:06 PM
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60: Mine are still separate accounts. But they're automatically added together in the numbers TIAA-CREF shows me when I log in. I don't see any reason to actually merge the accounts.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 2:11 PM
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Forgetting about how you're investing is exactly the right approach, but the problem with the fund you chose is that TIAA-CREF is still thinking about it and charging you for their "work." If they could really beat the market on a consistent basis they wouldn't be wasting their time doing so with your money (they'd be getting super rich with their own money). So any fee above .1% or so is just them ripping you off. Low fee index funds are better, where they're basically just investing in the whole market in a simple way and not charging you. The simplest thing is to just get one low fee index fund for each of bonds, domestic stocks, and international stocks. The only problem is balancing how much of each (the rule of thumb is to make the bond percentage your age). I think I have 30% in bonds, 50% in domestic, 20% international. Some people just do 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 and call it a day. Every 5-10 years I'll bump up the bonds a little.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 2:15 PM
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I just remembered that the canonical answer to the question in the OP was given by Elmer Fudd.

That's fabulous.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 2:21 PM
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64

Drive-by comment here because work deadlines. All the personal finance advice you will ever need is right here. By a lefty socialist, to boot.

And an amusing postscript to drive home the one of the key points here.



Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 2:52 PM
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That's great advice for people who have shitloads of money. For the rest of us, maxing out one's contributions to retirement and other tax-advantaged savings and also* putting 20% of one's income into savings is an absurd pipe dream.

* I'm not sure if he's saying that the 20% savings is in addition to the other stuff, or if the 20% includes the other stuff. Either way, 20% of one's income is a worthy goal, but not realizable for the vast majority of non-rich people.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 2:58 PM
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I guess if you think of it as "Save as much as you plausibly can, and don't slack off on that until you hit 20% of income," it's not nuts. And it is jammed onto an index card.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 3:08 PM
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58 - Yeah, I said that, repeating someone I read elsewhere, but doing some cursory Googling I can't find the result. Almost everything I've seen says that active investors as a whole underperform indexing, so I'd certainly believe it, but that's not the same as being able to cite actual research.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 3:14 PM
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This reminds me that I have a TIAA-CREF account with a few hundred dollars in it that my dad set up for me years ago. I keep wondering if it has any value to me alongside more conventional retirement accounts, or if it's just the defined-contribution fund manager that academic institutions tend to use.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 3:19 PM
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It is important to max out any employer-match.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 4:39 PM
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I "forgot" about a small 401(k) that I had a few jobs back, and when I logged in to check the value recently, I realized that, in my forgetfullness, all that time I had apparently been keeping the money is some really shitty mutual funds.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 5:03 PM
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putting 20% of one's income

Is that 20% after tax? That's the only way I'd have a shot, in a very good year.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 5:06 PM
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64.1 is reasonable, and I think most people in the financial industry would agree that it's all the financial advice that 80% of the people need, 80% of the time. But there's a lot of situations it doesn't cover. For instance, we're at the beginning of the largest generational transfer of wealth evar. What do you do with a windfall? You could just plow it into index funds, but that might not be the best idea from a tax or estate planning perspective. Also, I'm skeptical of some of the reasoning behind the contentions in the link in 64.2, because he seems to be confusing types of accounts (e.g. "Rollover" IRAs and 401(k)s) with the specific investment strategies employed in a given account. If you go into a stockbroker's office and say "I want to roll over my 401(k) into an IRA invested solely in no-load index funds," they might not be sending you bottles of champagne for your birthday, but they're not going to turn you down either.

Also, I think it's more than a bit disingenuous to tar everybody in finance with the brush of late-night, high-pressure sales pitches. Do you spend all your money on products advertised on late-night TV? Do you spend ANY of your money that way? But you do buy alternatives from sources you consider more trustworthy based on your judgment and experience.

There's also this question of fiduciary responsibility, which only really makes sense from a business perspective in conjunction with a fee-based account, and the savings from putting your money in a commission-based account that you rarely trade in. 1 or 2 percent of your account balance is a pretty high price to pay for someone sitting on a bunch of no-load funds for you. And indeed, if that were the only deal in town, it would cease to be a deal at all.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 5:31 PM
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If you can't spend it on beer and hiking equipment, it isn't a windfall.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 5:38 PM
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Furthermore: There are a lot of products available that are totally inappropriate for the broad mass of investors. Annuities, REITs, variable life insurance policies, etc. may work in very special situations, but they're mostly going to be a bad deal for everyone else. However, does that mean they should be banned or regulated out of existence? Everyone should not drive a Ford F-350 to work every day either, but some people really need to.

The thing is, if you're really up against it, you don't need any investing advice. Living within your means and increasing your earned income are going to be much more realistic strategies for increasing personal wealth for people at the bottom. Of course, it gets harder and harder to do that for those people, so that is where regulation and redistribution really need to happen. I would strongly support some kind of across-the-board, penny-per-share tax on stock trades, or something similar, to be directly redistributed to the poorest members of society. Something like that would do vastly more to improve people's lives than fiddling around with the rights and privileges of upper-middle-class investors.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 5:41 PM
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73: Well, that's the other part of it, certainly. How much time would you like to spend every day worrying about your investments? 5 minutes? 5 hours? There are plenty of rich people who spend every waking minute freaking out about their money and die rich, boring and unloved. I've talked to plenty of 'em. Money's only as good as your enjoyment of what you spend it on. Crazy rich misers eating dog food and living in unheated apartments are just as gruesome an outcome as destitute people living the same way.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 5:45 PM
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48.1: When do we ignore water and find it helpful?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 6:06 PM
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76: when making it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 6:09 PM
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Good riddle.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 6:10 PM
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When we are fish.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 6:25 PM
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OP: You must all play this game, but most of you will lose.


Posted by: Opinionated Red Queen | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 6:29 PM
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It is important to max out any employer-match.

Is employer matching a common thing? At Prince/ton and Har/vard they just pay a fixed fraction of your salary no matter what you do. (Prince/ton pays twice as much as Har/vard.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:16 PM
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I guess that ivory tower metaphor is true sometimes.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:20 PM
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81: At my place they pay a fixed percentage of salary, but only if you contribute a (smaller) fixed percentage.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:21 PM
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In that people who get matches are lucky. Most people get nothing. To just handed extra money... Not normal business practice.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:22 PM
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We get a match. When I was at Duke, they gave you a straight percentage if you put in 3% or more.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:22 PM
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My last empl/oyer did a match. I contributed nothing because I don't expect money to have value in the future. Or I'm really bad at planning.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:22 PM
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84: Well, it depends on your industry and stuff, but most of your big, Fortune 500-type companies offer a 401(k) with some kind of match and fairly quick vesting.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:23 PM
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Duke's match was interestingly regressive. Like 7% of your first $30k and 13% of anything above that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:25 PM
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There is a regulation that actually works as intended- 401k for "highly compensated employees" at a company, which are some top percentage, are limited unless a sufficient number of the rest of the employees contribute. So management actually has an incentive to get people to contribute, one way they encourage it is my marching.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:32 PM
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Yeah, Har/vard is 5% up to $120k and 10% above that. I think also they increase it for employees above an age threshold.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:32 PM
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Er, matching not marching although I can imagine some interesting implementations of the former to encourage retirement savings.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:35 PM
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90: That's pretty shitty for a university.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:51 PM
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We're 6% match plus an annual discretionary bonus outright contribution, typically 3%. Matches immediate vest, bonus 3 year from hiring so effectively immediate for me.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:55 PM
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These matching things at universities are just for tenure track, right?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:55 PM
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The regressiveness really is ridiculous.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:55 PM
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Yeah, I don't get that- is there any rationale given of what they're trying to accomplish besides fuck the little people?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 7:59 PM
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94: Prince/ton pays 10% even for postdocs. I think Har/vard's plan includes postdocs too, but I'd have to double-check. Not sure if staff are on the same plan or a different one.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:00 PM
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Is this some kind of elaborate joke?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:01 PM
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WHITE AND GOLD OR DEATH!!!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:05 PM
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100

It seems like the photoshop eyedropper tool can pretty easily resolve that controversy. I mean maybe in real life it's a certain color that's not well represented in the picture shown, but it's pretty clear what RGB space the picture is showing.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:05 PM
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Also does your fine institution still give 0% mortgages upon attainment of tenure?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:06 PM
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No. They don't make you pay for tenure.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:09 PM
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How can that not be blue and black?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:09 PM
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I qualified for the match at my last job despite being on a term limited contract. I think the match was a fixed amount per month with a cap, not a percentage.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:18 PM
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I assume Moby is in on the conspiracy.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:26 PM
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I had thought private schools did a match, because of some sort of tax advantage, but that was extrapolating from one example so was probably wrong. (Their's was quite weird in that there was a match but they also gave you a supplement to pay your half of the match.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:32 PM
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Blue and gold. Really. How are you people seeing anything else?

My old firm stopped matching in 1994. I should probably talk to an accountant and see if I can get some kind of tax credit for matching my paralegal.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:33 PM
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I don't know why the government would care if you had two, identical paralegals.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:36 PM
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Actually, that would be a big deal. For some reason, I'm still on the BLS list, so the government calls every month to see how many employees I have and how many hours they worked in the last pay period. My hiring an identical paralegal would register as a huge uptick in employment of Native women nationally.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 8:50 PM
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Lolwut?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:10 PM
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Is that even a real journal?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:14 PM
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The dress thing is weird. When I opened the link in 98 it was so clearly white (maybe with a bluish tint) and gold that I figured I was missing a joke. Then I scrolled down to comments, where there was what purported to be a differnt picture of the same dress, differently lit, and unquestionably blue and black. But the fabric looked different to me so I scrolled back up to compare, and now the dress up top is absolutely black and blue. Can't seem to make it switch back and forth like a necker cube though.

Oh wait, when I go back to the tab it's white and gold again. Presumably some kind of priming but it's uncanny.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:18 PM
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Actual graphic artists who have the Pantone screen calibrator doodah must be enjoying this a lot. Don't we have any?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:30 PM
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People are claiming it's this.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:49 PM
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"Now I'm going to spend the rest of my life working on this," he told me. "I thought I was going to cure blindness, but now I guess I'll do this."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 9:58 PM
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81: I'm at a nonprofit; we get a one-for-one match up to 3%, then one-for-two up to 5%. So contribute 3% of your salary, they contribute the same amount; contribute 5%, they put in 4%; contribute any more, and theirs stays at 4%. There's also an occasional lump sum at the end of the year.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 10:01 PM
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20% of one's income is a worthy goal, but not realizable for the vast majority of non-rich people

And even when it's in reach it can very difficult to maintain that discipline year in and year out. I made about 56K last year but the city also pays the full amount of the pension contribution, which was 25K. If I was just getting all that in salary and making 80K would I still be socking away that 25K for the future? Maybe, but probably not.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-26-15 11:40 PM
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Depends partly on how much you're afraid of an impoverished old age. Possibly the Boomers will undersave because their parents are mostly covered by SS & defined security benefits, and the Millenials will be thrifty as they watch a lot of 401ks be Not Enough.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 12:40 AM
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THOSE COHORTS ARE DEFINITELY PURPLE AND GOLD.


Posted by: Opinionated Lord Byron on Gawker | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:31 AM
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62: The problem I have with the "age% of your portfolio should be in bonds" advice is that the rationale for that is that the bond portion of your portfolio will be safer than stocks, and I'm not sure if that's really true these days. Rising interest rates will hammer all bond values across the board, if they happen, and with interest rates currently at or close to the zero lower bound, I figure there is only one direction interest rates are likely to move, once they move. To be sure, I don't expect a lot of movement in the short run, until the economy picks up further than where it is, but I'm not at all confident about them being stable several years out. So for now, the fixed-income part of my portfolio is mostly money-market (which protects principal in nominal terms, and hedges a bit against getting caught by an unexpected rise in interest rates), and I'm keeping the overall percentage of that pretty low compared to what I have in stock index funds. Much lower than my age% would be, as a guideline.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 3:10 AM
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So to study this, the guy in 115 took an oddly lit digital picture, printed it out on a color printer, tilted it to make the printout reflect light in different ways, then took digital images of those? I'm shocked why no one can agree. Anyway, assuming most people's monitors are roughly the same calibration, there's a certain set of HSB values (which is probably a better measure for comparing black to not-black than RGB) and the dark bands are closest to something normally called yellow/gold than they are to black.
xkcd actually addresses this today, which is either making the same point about background lighting or is saying something about race. BFD, it's another optical illusion- I've never seen anything like that in my entire life!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 4:55 AM
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I sincerely hope the guy in 115 was trolling the reporter, since he seems to be a legit vision scientist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 5:09 AM
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OK, the dress is officially blue and black, says somebody who saw it in person.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 5:30 AM
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... but who cares? I can't for the life of me figure out why the internet lost its mind over this. Okay, color constancy and bistability -- yes! They are neat! You should have taken Sensation & Perception in undergrad!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 5:40 AM
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123: That's a different dress. That's white and gold.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 5:46 AM
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I don't care, but I admit I'm astonished that it's taken 24 hours for anybody to ask the obvious people.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 5:48 AM
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I can't for the life of me figure out why the internet lost its mind over this. Okay, color constancy and bistability -- yes! They are neat! You should have taken Sensation & Perception in undergrad!

Really? The internet loves a good optical illusion.

Anyway, FWIW, I don't get either white and gold or blue and black (except in that second photo from the Vice piece). I get blue and gold (well, bronze).


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 6:08 AM
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I think ridiculous Amazon reviews might be my favorite part of the internet


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 6:31 AM
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Besides here, I mean. Obviously.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 6:37 AM
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That and herpy.net.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 6:48 AM
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120. A half-point rise in interest rate will decrease bond prices, but the change in bond price will be, I believe, small compared to equity price fluctuations. So I think that the effect you describe will happen, but I believe that it will be small compared to a worst-of-10 year in equities. Does that seem wrong?

Also, the rest of the world is in deflation, which makes US bonds that still pay interest in a strong currency attractive to foreigners. Proportionally more foreign money in US markets in the future, I think.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 6:58 AM
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Honestly, it was the weirdest fucking thing to look at the dress with Jammies, and have him and I fall on other sides of the debate. With strangers on the internet, you can assume that their screen is tinted weird, etc, or some other trick is at play. But when you're staring together at the same damn photo...SO WEIRD. (Team white and gold.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:16 AM
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110- I wouldn't worry about it, that's just one data point.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:16 AM
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I did the goddamn eyedropper test, you can even do it in MS paint so anyone in the world should be able to see this- the lighter color is RGB 128/140/188 or HSB 153/74/149 (depending on where exactly you sample) and the darker part is 125/109/73 or 28/63/93. The easiest thing to compare to black and white is the last number of the HSB values- black will be 0 regardless of the others, white will be 255 (in 24-bit colorspace) Guess what, the "black" has a brightness value of 93, that's not black. Of course the white is not white either at only 149, it's correct that based on straight colors it's brownish and blueish.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:22 AM
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The guy in 115 says less insane things here, and the other guy they talked to (the Wellesley neuroscientist) is exactly the right person to ask about this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:26 AM
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132: I assumed everybody who didn't say white and gold was trolling.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:30 AM
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It's not that I don't understand the principles, but man, there is no way that I can flip my own perceptions away from white and gold. Even the triptych at the link in 135 all look like white and gold under different lighting conditions. I wonder if last week's ski trip is affecting me; because of all the snow and glare, that I'm adjusted to harshly bluish lighting.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:31 AM
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I hope the guy in 115 is also studying if his wife is also his grandmother and how closely ducks and rabbits are related to each other.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:33 AM
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I didn't see anything but white and gold in 135 either.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:33 AM
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The Commonwealth is pretty shitty. They contribute nothing to your defined benefit pension, and the percentage of your contribution goes up to 13% pretty quickly. If you compare your salary to a nominal private sector salary, you're making less, because the private-sector employer has to pay Social Security. (If you were hired in the 70's, it's only like 5%), but you have to remember that you're not going to get social security. Then you can save separately (in a 401(k) type vehicle), but if you want any management help--deciding how to allocate yoru fund choices, they charge very high fees. (Like 3% or something on top of the basic fee).

In Canada, government employees have it pretty good--often higher salaries than in the private sector.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:36 AM
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137: did you look at the xkcd?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:40 AM
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Oh, wow. Could the peculiar intensity of this specific controversy be driven by the winter? I mean, I'm blaming my ski trip, but a lot of people on the internet have been buried in snow for a month. Might there be an effect of people who are adjusted to snowscape lighting conditions arguing with people who aren't?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:40 AM
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No.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:40 AM
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141: Honestly, both sides still look white and gold. The side with the white background, I'm 'seeing' her in a shadow, with a brightly lit backdrop, which I understand there's no visual evidence for in the drawing, but that's legitimately how I'm seeing it. I can't flip it to a picture of her in a blue/black dress in bright light.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:42 AM
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143: That was illuminating. I mean, why not?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:43 AM
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I see pants. I don't see a dress at all.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:46 AM
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124 I can't for the life of me figure out why the internet lost its mind over this. Okay, color constancy and bistability -- yes! They are neat! You should have taken Sensation & Perception in undergrad!

This one seems weirder, to me, than all the standard psych-class examples. For one thing, for a lot of people there doesn't seem to be any bistability at all. I never see black, at all. But (if the news reports are true) the dress really is black, the apparent gold color is due to lighting, and a lot of people's perception is automatically correcting for that. Whereas I can't get my brain to correct for it no matter how hard I try. I'm not used to the standard examples bringing out such big differences between different people's perception that can't be overcome with some effort.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:46 AM
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I reread 110 this morning in case it seemed stupid because I was sleepy. But, it's just stupid. I'm happy to see the guy calling the thing ridiculous is from Pittsburgh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:47 AM
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147: This. I can usually flip this kind of illusion, but this one is stuck hard for me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:48 AM
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So anyway, this example seems pretty nifty even to some of us who did take classes that covered some of this. And why begrudge people the fun they're having with it? You already know vision is neat. Now a lot of other people know more about how vision is neat. That's good, right?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:49 AM
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I can confirm that the color values for the stick figures' breasts in both sides of the xkcd panel are in fact exactly the same.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:50 AM
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126: It didn't take 24 hours. There were articles quoting people who saw it in person already by Thursday evening, US time.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:51 AM
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150: Because academic study always crushes all sense of wonder out of a person?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:52 AM
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145: I mean, it's not per se impossible. But generally context effects with color are driven by (temporally and spatially) local cues; there's some evidence of very long term adaptation (e.g. here) but not with a mechanism that would operate on the scale of a month or so. Also, all of us living here amidst the snow mounds experience a vast range of lighting conditions throughout the day -- natural light, indoor illumination of various sort, monitor lighting -- that we're generally able to compensate for perfectly well after at most a couple of minutes of adaptation. The idea of a medium-term adaptation that's drive by a shift in a relatively small portion of the day's lighting conditions is... I dunno, sorta tenuous. If you want to claim it as your theory, though, I don't know that I can say it's impossible.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:52 AM
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151: That's the whole point--the xkcd strip is trying to illustrate how we perceive the same colors differently depending on their surroundings. But for me it's light blue and gold on one side and darker blue and brownish-gold on the other.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:52 AM
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150: I knooooow. This is an awesome teachable moment for vision science and instead I'm activating my inner killjoy. It's the wrong reaction! But here we are. Something about the clickbaity ignorance of the original references to it activated my grumpiness.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:54 AM
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Jammies' family had this car - "the gold Honda" - which various kids took to college, so it was sometimes referred to as "the one that [Jammies' dad] bought" for clarification (ie for my benefit). I swear to god, it was 2-3 years before I realized that "the gold Honda" was the silver Honda that we'd inherited from Jammies' parents. Jammies also has a silver truck, and they were virtually identical in color.

The way I figured it out was that Jammies was directing some third party to his car, "the gold Honda, parked in that row over there", and all of a sudden when the person couldn't find the car, it all became clear. There were a half-dozen incidents where I'd have to clarify to someone "No, he means the silver car. His family just calls it gold. I don't know why."

Either they've got a Simpsons-it's-raining-again-donuts family mass hysteria, or the color of the car faded over the years.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:54 AM
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For people who can't see it, a friend suggested focusing on the bright white in the corner behind the dress and seeing if that turns the dress blue for you.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:55 AM
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Maybe, after all these years, someone should change the totally black image at the top of the Unfogged front page to something with more color?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:55 AM
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Yeah, the xkcd strip doesn't get it to flip for me, either. It just looks shadowed or something.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:56 AM
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And there certainly are individual differences in color perception -- somebody should show that picture to a tetrachromat, because why not -- that are legitimately fascinating and legitimately understudied. Color perception in general is wild and understudied. Nobody really knows why we have color perception, for instance.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:56 AM
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158: The blue isn't the problem. I think anyone who's being reasonable agrees that the "white" has a blue tint. The puzzling thing is how to fail to perceive the gold.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:57 AM
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Color science is fun! I'll back up Tweety here; local contrast affects how we see color and it's far more likely that your experience is affected by the lighting of the photo rather than your ski trip. I can see it both ways -- first white and gold, then blue and black -- and for me the cue that shifts it is the lower left corner with the bright yellow light.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:57 AM
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147 is right. Normally the illusion is presented, and then broken by covering up the parts of the image that create confusion, as in the XKCD example. For this, that doesn't work. The picture is brownish and very faint blue, and people perceive that as gold and white because we are used to perceiving very faint blue as white. We're left with concluding that the 24% of people who see blue and black, according to the Buzzfeed poll, are like the people who taste cilantro as soap.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:58 AM
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162 is right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:58 AM
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I didn't see anything but white and gold in 135 either.

I don't see anything but blue and black.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 7:59 AM
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a friend suggested focusing on the bright white in the corner behind the dress and seeing if that turns the dress blue for you.

But how do you turn it white and gold?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:00 AM
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Music.


Posted by: Opinionated Colonel Tom Parker | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:01 AM
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It's a very nice dress; I enjoy looking at it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:02 AM
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I mean, there are two different questions- with all my eyedropper fury I've been answering the question, what colors are being displayed in this picture, and the answer is indisputably some kind of tan-brown and something sort of bluish. If you're asking me what color is this dress in real life I went with white-gold because I made the "bluish is usually how white appears" adjustment in my head. For people to argue "no the picture is actually showing me black" as opposed to saying "this is a washed-out picture of something black" would be completely insane.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:04 AM
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A friend of mine had already planned to cover color constancy in his sensation and perception class today. Score for him!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:05 AM
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with all my eyedropper fury I've been answering the question, what colors are being displayed in this picture

YES. The confusion of talking about the representation with talking about the thing has been driving me batty.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:08 AM
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I almost only see blue and black, but I've seen a few cases where the picture was presented to me out of context (e.g. One of those current-day-Seinfeld meme tweets) and it initially would appear as white and gold. But then I'd look at it some more, recognize it as the dress, and the colors would flip to blue and black and would stay there. Neat.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:08 AM
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For people to argue "no the picture is actually showing me black" as opposed to saying "this is a washed-out picture of something black" would be completely insane.

Absent this controversy I would never have imagined that might be anything other than a blue and black dress. When I heard suggested that it might actually be a white and gold dress I thought it was a joke. Now that I've stared at it in a bunch of different conditions, I see the illusion, and once even saw it as fairly clearly white and gold (when I looked at the picture on my phone in an otherwise dark room), but I've had trouble seeing it that way again.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:08 AM
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Also, I've been making a mash-up xkcd comic in my head in which men say the dress is penis-colored and women say it's stormy ocean.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:09 AM
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I agree with LB that there's no manipulation of that image that makes me see the white as anything other than a very pale blue. The real mystery is exactly what you have to do to a camera to produce that image from the purported (very, very blue) real dress.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:12 AM
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Periwinkle and bronze, I should have said above. I said blue and gold because those seem to be on the menu, and they're my school colors.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:14 AM
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Getting sorta back to the OP for a bit, I recently spent some time (and a non-trivial amount of money) trying to figure out the proper way to save for retirement (and also in general) as an American expat, technically self-employed, who may or may not ever live in the US again, and the whole process was stressful beyond belief, far out of proportion to how much effort was involved.

I think it was a combination of: 1- there really is a lot to figure out in terms of taxation and the treatment of different assets and so on; 2- making the wrong decision will have enormous consequences decades down the line; 3- what will turn out to be the "right" decision depends on future events that are fundamentally unknowable; 4- even if those future events *were* known, this is all dependent on government policy, or rather, the policies of at least 3 different governments (US, AT, EU), which will certainly change at least somewhat over the next few decades. Oh, and maybe this is really just a subset of 2, but, 5- the policy landscape seems increasingly likely to change in the direction of "if you chose wrongly decades ago, you deserve to starve in retirement" rather than becoming more humane.

Anyway, the whole process made me even more enraged by the whole pension privatization movement. Fuck you, I don't want the joys of taking ownership of my investment destiny; I just want to not be fucking destitute in my old age. Gahhh, the rage.

And yes, I recognize that my problems are weird super-privileged expat edge-case problems, and orthogonal to the actual serious issues, but the stress involved in deciding stuff is real even for people in more normal situations (like this guy) and it's maddening that it doesn't seem to be taken seriously as a legitimate consideration in public policy.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:15 AM
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Blue and gold is a good set of school colors.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:15 AM
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180

Prussian blue and chrome yellow.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:16 AM
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Man. Now I'm full of guilt for being a killjoy.

LB let us discuss your snowboundness theory! It is fun!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:18 AM
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Bonsaisue and I fell on opposite sides of the perception, too.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:23 AM
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I also don't get any sort of illusory effect off the XKCD image. The gold/blue on the right look a tiny bit darker than the gold/blue on the left. I guess my cortex is broken.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:24 AM
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When I would work in the lithography lab in our cleanroom in grad school , my color perception would get alllll fouled up.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:25 AM
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This is the (perspective and context only) transformation that let me see it as white, but it's back to blue now.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:26 AM
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Aaagghh, more rage thanks to something in my other-place-feed:

Individual participation in equity markets: The stock market is one of the best available tools for individual wealth creation, generating annual returns of around 10% over the past century. Our mission is to empower this new generation to take greater ownership in their financial future, which we believe can help shrink the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" and lead to a healthier, more robust global economy.

I ... I just ... what the fuck. Do you think these people actually believe that commission-free stock-trades are going to help decrease inequality? They couldn't actually be that stupid, right? Surely that's just marketing blather so that their techie clientele can feel like they're part of something edgy.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:26 AM
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185: I've also never been able to see stereograms, so I guess my cortex is broken. Is there any correlation between white/gold people and non-stereogram people? (I mean a stronger correlation than r=1, n=1 for my anecdata.)


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:36 AM
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The shame.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:36 AM
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187: I know a journal where you can publish that finding.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:37 AM
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Surely everyone can get 10% return on their investments! There won't be anyone who does worse even though the entire economy only grows at 3-4% max. I know, all companies should invest all their money too, then the entire economy will grow at 10% too!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:42 AM
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So is it "actually" a blue and brown dress? That's what I end up seeing in common across all the representations, including xkcd. It's never quite dark enough to be black to me. The first picture I saw did look white and gold but who can be sure of anything in that light?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:46 AM
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I'd missed 123. Oh, thank god. The dress is actually blue and black. I thought everyone was suggesting it was actually white and gold, and so I was worried there was something wrong with my perception. I feel better now about the fact that I'm only seeing blue and black. It's the white/gold people who are crazy. I get that it's bad lighting but sheesh.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:50 AM
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See 123. I really would like to hear a theory of what was happening with that camera sensor.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:51 AM
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Let's be clear: white/gold people are not crazy. They are accurately perceiving the pixels in the image. Blue/black people have wonder-cortexes that are successfully perceiving the "real" color of the dress in spite of the pixels in the image.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:55 AM
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Ah, I'd seen someone say they saw it in person earlier but the sourcing was thin.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:57 AM
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They are accurately perceiving the pixels in the image.

I disagree that the pixels in the image can be accurately described as 'white' or 'gold'. See 134.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 8:59 AM
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The crazy thing is that it's a new black and blue dress. It's not even faded. Do those of you seeing black and blue see it as old and faded, at least?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:01 AM
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You know what I'd think I'd need to see the dress (holding the actual color of the pixels on the screen steady) as blue/black? The xkcd strip, putting it against a bright background to suggest bright lighting, didn't work, I 'saw' it in a shadow. Pull out from the drawing a little, draw in a light source aimed at her, and draw a shadow behind her, so I couldn't possibly believe she was in shadow? I bet that'd flip me.

In other words, while I'm not looking at the actual picture right now, but is the issue that it's lacking good cues on how strong the light is and where it's coming from?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:02 AM
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The core of the disagreement appears to be that camp white/gold says, "How the hell can you see that poop brown color as black" while team black/blue says, "Why are you calling that sky blue color white?" There are certain situations where either may be true- something black that is faded or overexposed can appear brown, while extremely cool temperature white appears bluish. In my experience the white with a blue tint is a more common thing to experience but maybe the blue/black people are those who spend all day in a cave with artificial lighting.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:06 AM
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His illustration is definitely pretty impoverished as far as contextual cues.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:07 AM
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197: to me it looks just like a photo of a very black and blue dress (not any different than the stock photo at the bottom of the link in 123) but taken with maybe a bad camera flash or something else weird going on with the lighting.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:10 AM
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The XKCD totally doesn't work for me, it's white and gold on both sides.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:10 AM
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199 seems right.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:10 AM
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If you're a white-and-gold you can certainly see that the gold is pretty dark in spots and the white is slightly bluish. Which makes 199 sound plausible. But being married to a blue-and-black, I think urple's 201 is more accurate. The blue-and-black people really aren't seeing the same slightly blue white as a white-and-gold person and rounding the color up, they're actually seeing a dark blue.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:13 AM
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There's no plausible way to get blue and black. Urple is drinking early today because it's Friday.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:14 AM
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Here you go, LB.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:15 AM
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That's still blue and gold, not blue and black.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:16 AM
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Yeah, it doesn't work still. I don't understand why it doesn't work, but my brain is stuck.

This one's annoying me because I believe that white and gold is objectively wrong -- that the blue/black people are successfully correcting for weird lighting and getting a more accurate picture of what they'd see if they were in the room with the dress -- and I can't get my brain to work properly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:19 AM
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I find it easier to just assume everybody who disagrees with me is objectively wrong. I use a subjective definition of objective.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:20 AM
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208 is exactly how I feel, too. urple's brain is better than mine at identifying objective reality? That's troubling.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:20 AM
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I'm curious how big a sales bump that dress has gotten.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:22 AM
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There's going to be a whole bunch of returns. "I thought this was a white dress."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:23 AM
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347% according to somebody random on twitter.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:24 AM
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206: That's not enough. Can the shadow also be wearing a dress?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:30 AM
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209: The great thing about solipsism is that my subjectivity is objective.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:30 AM
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My dad can't tell black from brown. Maybe I'm the same way, except less so.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:32 AM
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215: Moral notions imply attributes to substances which exist only in relational duality.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:35 AM
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They should start making the corresponding white and gold dress too.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:44 AM
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Does this help any, LB?


Also, as to the "how can this happen with a camera" point, I tried not terribly successfully to demonstrate the role of auto white balance here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:44 AM
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219 doesn't help me. All I see are darker and lighter versions of the white and gold dress, with some of them with slightly more of a bluish tinge to the white (like if you looked at a white dress under bluish light).


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:50 AM
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214: Only the shadow knows for sure.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:51 AM
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219: Maddeningly, no. When the video started talking about altering the reference color of the background, I was sure that was going to flip it, but no.

I wonder if I'm stuck purely because of the discussion (I 'know' what color it is, so I can't perceive it differently now) and if seeing the image against an orange background would make it look blue/black to me if I came to it fresh.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 9:56 AM
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Comparing the image to the actual dress, the photo seems to have an extra article of clothing (a jacket?) which I had thought was the sleeves of the dress. What color to blue-and-black-ers see that jacket as?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 10:00 AM
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Got to be blue to them, no? It looks to me like the same color as the stripes I'm seeing as white fabric (appearing pale bluish because of the lighting).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 10:02 AM
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That would be my guess, but I'm not totally sure.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 10:03 AM
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Yes, it's the same color blue as the rest of the dress.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 10:19 AM
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||

Anyone reading erotic Kirk/Spock fanfiction? Get your hands out of your pants.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 10:21 AM
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Aw no! That's very sad.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 10:28 AM
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Sad, but when someone dies in their eighties or later, and seems to have been pretty healthy and active up until close to the end, I find myself thinking that it's not a bad outcome. No one makes it out alive, but dying old after a short illness is about as good as it gets.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 10:33 AM
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If your hand was in your pants, were your middle fingers in a V shape?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 10:34 AM
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The core of the disagreement appears to be that camp white/gold says, "How the hell can you see that poop brown color as black" while team black/blue says, "Why are you calling that sky blue color white?"

No, that's probably what I would have figured if I stayed stuck on one side of the line and didn't experience the switchover I described in 112. But it really was uncanny, what had looked like white with a blue tinge was suddenly a very deep, unequivocal blue, and what had been gold or maybe charitably very light brown was now black as midnight, and nothing about my viewing conditions changed to make it happen. It really was a total shift in what I was perceiving, not a question of what to call it and not what the xkcd thing seems to be getting at. My first thought was that gawker was fucking with us by randomly swapping out the photo when you scrolled away and back, which of course is stupid, but that's how stark the effect was.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 10:48 AM
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231 describes me exactly. I at first saw the dress very plainly as white and gold. I tried to see it as blue and black and completely failed. Then I looked at some other pictures, or did something else, and looked again, and now it's so obviously blue and black that I don't know what I was thinking before. And I'm having exactly the same experience as I did on first viewing, except in reverse -- I'm trying to see the dress as white and gold and I can't even imagine how it could look that way.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 11:29 AM
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Another video for LB et al.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 11:29 AM
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Who could forget the classic image of Spock, solemn with fingers spread apart, wearing a white and gold uniform?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 12:00 PM
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Heh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 12:02 PM
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That almost made me laugh out loud. Which isn't good for a conference call.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 12:03 PM
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He picked some decent last (public) words. Though I suppose if you die in the hospital of the last stages of a chronic illness there's enough of a warning ahead of time to come up with something and use it at the right time.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 12:13 PM
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I saw him in a stage production of a Sherlock Holmes play. He was objectively terrible -- he lost his accent in the second act -- but he was a hoot, and the crowd loved him.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 12:36 PM
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I had the same experience as potchkeh and jms (more or less). I saw it as white and gold initially, and that's still my default, but seeing certain other images immediately before can flip it to blue and black. I can't do it consciously.

(As a data point for LB's theory, I have been snowed in for the past two days or so.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:00 PM
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Well I saw Patrick Stewart in his one man version of A Christmas Carol so screw you TOS groupie.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:02 PM
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I still can't read TOS as anything but Troll o' Sorrow.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:04 PM
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240, 241: Yeah, I'm puzzled. "TOS groupie"?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:20 PM
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And yes, I recognize that my problems are weird super-privileged expat edge-case problems, and orthogonal to the actual serious issues, but the stress involved in deciding stuff is real even for people in more normal situations (like this guy) and it's maddening that it doesn't seem to be taken seriously as a legitimate consideration in public policy.

That article invoked in me the one-word response that's so popular with millennials.

Was every aspect of "investing" designed to be maximally confusing in prior generations, like it is now?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:21 PM
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TOS = The original series?

Is that right?

When I saw Nimoy as Holmes, there was not yet anything but the original series.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:22 PM
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I think 'saving' used to be much less unattractive compared to 'investing'. Like, a savings account had a perceptible interest rate. It's the situation that's been in force for my adult life, where your options are buying some kind of securities or the financial equivalent of putting your money in shoeboxes under your bed, that makes it all so confusing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:25 PM
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Famous Last Words: "Hit send on that draft in my Twitter account, will you?"


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:30 PM
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"Did he say delete all of the drafts on this Twitter account and publish his browser history or the other way around?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:32 PM
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If you don't know all the acronyms TOS TNG DS9 VOY ENT (not sure if those last couple are the abbreviations people actually use although google finds some threads using them) you're clearly not a serious groupie.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:39 PM
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The only thing I remember about VOY is Seven of Nine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:41 PM
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243: In the 50's people who were "middle class" and invested had a broker, and they were likely to be independent professionals, like doctors and lawyers.

The fees for trades were higher but regulated, so I think that people chose based on the reputation of the adviser broker.

And a certain amount of your investments were going to be in staid blue chips that paid dividends.

The 60's were kind of a go-go era before the slump of the 70's.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:43 PM
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ST:TR@LVH


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:45 PM
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249: Buck used to call her "Six of One (half a dozen of the other)".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:46 PM
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248: I'm definitely not a groupie at all.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:47 PM
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oops that should be ST:TE@LVH


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:48 PM
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Well I saw Patrick Stewart in his one man version of A Christmas Carol so screw you TOS groupie.

Well I saw Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in No Man's Land so screw you Trek nerds, X-Men 4EVER!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:48 PM
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249: Can someone make a plausible case that if wasn't for her. Barack Obama wouldn't be President?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:50 PM
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256: Sure. It's probably even true.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:53 PM
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252: The joke I heard was "Ten out of Ten."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:54 PM
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Well I saw Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn and Gates McFadden on television so there.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:54 PM
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Something something Ian McKellen Sean Bean Lord of the Ring of Westeros.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:56 PM
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Well when I sort of grew a beard senior year of high school everyone called me number one because they said I looked like the bearded version of Frakes.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:57 PM
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256/257: ??


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 1:59 PM
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Her ex-husband was both a favored candidate for the Senate seat Obama got and a pushy exhibitionist.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:01 PM
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And the... highly descriptive... divorce papers showing this came out in the middle of his campaign against Obama.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:02 PM
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Specifically, some documents were released from their divorce, relating allegations that he tried to pressure her into having sex with him at a sex club (in France? Do I remember that right?). I don't remember the timing exactly, but he either dropped out of the race or lost.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:04 PM
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It was in France, New York, and New Orleans.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:04 PM
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I think 'saving' used to be much less unattractive compared to 'investing'. Like, a savings account had a perceptible interest rate. It's the situation that's been in force for my adult life, where your options are buying some kind of securities or the financial equivalent of putting your money in shoeboxes under your bed, that makes it all so confusing.

Great point. I feel real resentment about apparently being a grade-A moron for having my savings in a savings account instead of in something that could suddenly lose 50% of its value and not recover for 20 years.

Is there any class of person, whose job is to give people financial advice, who is not also a scam artist?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:05 PM
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I'm looking at the wikipedia page.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:06 PM
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Wikipedia. I'd forgotten: Ryan dropped out, and was replaced by wacky Alan Keyes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:06 PM
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I think 'saving' used to be much less unattractive compared to 'investing'. Like, a savings account had a perceptible interest rate. It's the situation that's been in force for my adult life, where your options are buying some kind of securities or the financial equivalent of putting your money in shoeboxes under your bed, that makes it all so confusing.

Great point. I feel great resentment about apparently being a grade-A moron for having my savings in a savings account instead of in something that could suddenly lose 50% of its value and not recover for 20 years.

Is there any class of person, whose job is to give people financial advice, who is likely to not also be a scam artist?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:06 PM
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Thus beginning the sequence of extreme luck he had in drawing opposing candidates- Jack Ryan (replaced Alan Keyes), John McCain, Mitt Romney. The fact that McCain was probably the strongest candidate of those he's faced tells you a lot.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:07 PM
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267: Some investment advisors who have a big enough stable of clients do that. And there are certain fee structures which are based on performance.

I suppose that you could pay a consultant by the hour to look over your mix of funds every year or so.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:07 PM
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Oh, got it. Is this somehow tied to her Seven of Nine character? I mean, it seems like that could have all played out basically the same way even if VOY had never existed. Which was not how I understood the claim in 256.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:08 PM
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Full disclosure: I've never seen VOY.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:09 PM
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||

Ipad question. Does anybody use an iPad with a stylus to take notes and record things at the same time. I'm just a terrible note taker, because I don't write fast enough and would like to be able to go back to a point in a talk. I have terrible fear of any job where I would be responsible for writing up meeting minutes for this reason. If so, which iPad version do you have?

Also, I really want one now, because the Loeb Classical library is digital, so I can carry every last volume around with me in my pocket.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:11 PM
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Well, I don't know how they met, but my vague assumption at the time was that their marriage was an actress/politician moderately-famous-person marriage, rather than two nobodies who got married and then got famous. And that part of his motivation for the sex club thing was wanting to show off his famously hot cyborg wife. So, not necessarily tied to the character, but maybe somewhat.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:11 PM
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I think they met before she was famous.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:13 PM
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275: There's a thing -- not an iPad, but a dedicated pen/recorder, that you can get to play back the audio tied to what you were writing at that moment. Like, if you were doodling a bunny rabbit with the pen, you could play back the audio from while you were doodling by referencing the rabbit. Someone here has talked about using it, but let me see if I can find it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:14 PM
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But after he was rich.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:14 PM
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Livescribe?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:15 PM
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276: According to wikipedia, they married in 1991, but she wasn't cast in VOY until 1997.

"In 1990, while dealing blackjack at a charity event, the actress met investment banker and future Republican political candidate Jack Ryan."

Sounds like neither was famous when they married.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:16 PM
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No. Goldman Sachs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:16 PM
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I think this. I haven't used it or anything like it, but it sounds like what you need.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:17 PM
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I have a livescribe. It's pretty neat, and was very handy for classes. Having the linked audio is very helpful. I never did, like, transcription, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:19 PM
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Here is the engagement announcement.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:19 PM
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the actress met investment banker and future Republican political candidate Jack Ryan.

See, its all about the investment bankers. A hedge fund manager would have behaved much more appropriately.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 2:26 PM
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investment banker and future Republican political candidate Jack Ryan

I forget, was that the Alec Baldwin Jack Ryan, or the Harrison Ford one? Or maybe Ben Affleck or Chris Pine?


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 3:06 PM
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Did the dress color discussion give anyone besides me a persistent Kenny Wayne Shepherd earworm?


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 02-27-15 6:00 PM
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This is probably a completely dead topic at this point, but I finally discovered a convincing explanation for why so many of you saw the blue and black dress as white and gold: you have dog eyes, or at best human eyes, instead of bee eyes. It is highly probable that people with bee eyes do not get tricked by blue/black or white/gold dresses, no matter the background light. (And yes, I have bee eyes.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 1-15 7:01 PM
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That is the opposite of convincing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 1-15 7:03 PM
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I still say everybody who saw blue/black is just trolling.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 1-15 7:07 PM
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I'm betting you're just saying that because you have dog eyes.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 1-15 7:08 PM
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292 to 290.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 1-15 7:08 PM
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250.2: I'll say they were higher! Per Wikipedia, pre-deregulation commissions averaged $.80 per share, post-deregulation it was $.04 per share.
270.last: it's more a question of degree. Your average broker is no more a scam artist than your average plumber, with all that implies.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 1-15 7:18 PM
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If anybody still cares about the dress thing I have an explanatory image that works better than any one I've seen previously.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-15 12:31 PM
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Is it a dichromatic image?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 03- 2-15 12:39 PM
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It's made entirely of bees.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 2-15 12:40 PM
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If the actual explanation doesn't involve bee and/or dog eyes, I'm comfortable with my current assumptions regardless of their accuracy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 2-15 12:41 PM
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Actually I've just been informed that I probably shouldn't post it around the internet just yet. Never mind! urple's compound eye theory stands for now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 2-15 12:41 PM
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295: Yes, because I'm still waiting for the one that decisively flips me to blue/black. (The last video sort of got me there, but not really.)

Many years back, I got to where I could flip to the Necker cube as a series of flat shapes (a rectangle, two triangles, and four trapezoids) in addition to the two different 3-D views. To show how long ago it was, I thought at the time that it might be interesting to try to make a shallow ashtray using the pattern.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 2-15 1:38 PM
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