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Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

JesseMcDonald Re:Why do you want pieces of plastic (348 comments)

Ahh so there are no scarce resources that go into digital creations ? Nobody puts time, money, consumable resources to make entertainment ?

I didn't say that at all, and you know it. It's the "digital creations" themselves which are not scarce. Producing new ones requires labor and other scarce resources. However, artificial copyright monopolies are hardly the only way to fund the production of new media. In the absence of copyright you still have options like patronage and crowd-funding, not to mention volunteer efforts (which already make up a significant fraction of copyrighted works).

Really, while I certainly think that the media companies have been shooting themselves in the foot with machineguns by not maximizing the digital presence of their works, .... But that's their right.

No, punishing those who distribute copies of digital media without their authorization isn't a right. It's just a privilege invented as part of a scheme to incentivize the creation of new works. And like any legal privilege, it can only exist by infringing on the natural rights of others. There are other, better options.

3 days ago
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Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

JesseMcDonald Re:Why do you want pieces of plastic (348 comments)

Seriously why don't you just try justifying why you limit access to your property or person for your own material interests.

That's easy. If someone else is using my property or person, I can't use it myself. Use of scare resources is inherently competitive and zero-sum. The same is not true for non-scarce resources like digital media.

3 days ago
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Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

JesseMcDonald Re:Why do you want pieces of plastic (348 comments)

I also wouldn't use a service that does not provide a library at least on par with The Pirate Bay.

That's a pretty ridiculous bar to set.

I think it's a very reasonable bar to set. TPB proves that there is no technical reason why we can't provide everyone with near-instant, free access to basically every last bit of media on Earth. It's up to the pro-copyright faction to justify withholding that access to suit their own material interests.

3 days ago
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Dealing With 'Advertising Pollution'

JesseMcDonald Re:why? (392 comments)

If it's opt-in, or you can very easily opt out without giving up anything else, then it's a subscription. Otherwise, it's a tax.

4 days ago
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States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

JesseMcDonald Re:Crazy (777 comments)

That doesn't make any sense, businesses don't hire people on a whim, they hire people because they have roles that need doing, minimum wage doesn't change that.

Businesses hire people when they have a job that needs doing, provided that it's worth the cost. Not every potential job is worth its cost, and minimum wage artificially raises that cost, with the obvious result that some jobs simply go undone.

There is also the matter of competition which is not subject to the minimum wage—not just under-the-table employment and offshoring, but also automation. With the increased minimum wage, businesses may find that it's now cheaper to employ a machine, where before they would have given the job to a human. Or perhaps they simply increase their existing employees' workloads rather than hiring someone else to handle the "unskilled" jobs.

Even if every business did act like it was insensitive to wages, as you seem to think, that would just mean that the marginal ones are no longer profitable and thus go out of business, further reducing both the supply of goods and the demand for labor.

4 days ago
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States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

JesseMcDonald Re:Crazy (777 comments)

The worker is not consenting to work, he is figuratively forced at gunpoint.

Emphasis very much on the "figuratively"—and it's not the employer holding the gun. If the worker does not consent then he is merely left in his original state, and is no worse off than he would be in the absence of the employer. Regardless of any external pressures, whether from nature or the government or other sources, the employer-employee relationship itself is completely consensual. A free market is one where people's natural rights are respected, not one where everyone is guaranteed an equal bargaining position. The fact that the job means more to the worker than it does to the employer does not prevent this from being a free market.

4 days ago
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Dell Starts Accepting Bitcoin

JesseMcDonald Re:But /why/? (152 comments)

I don't think anyone can claim that bitcoin cannot have inflation. It has hyperinflation and hyperdeflation in pretty frequent intervals.

Bitcoin has an extremely predictable rate of supply inflation (the kind meant here) which follows an exponential decay curve and will be under 1%/yr. by 2020 or so. There could be some very minor supply deflation after that point due to people losing their keys, but it should never become a major factor.

The price inflation and deflation you allude to is partly due to being a very young high-risk/high-reward venture. If Bitcoin is to reach even a fraction of its potential as a currency, the price per bitcoin must end up several orders of magnitude higher than it is now to match the increased demand, or there simply wouldn't be enough to go around. On the other hand, concerted political opposition could render it useless in most of the major markets. Whether the innovators or the politicians will win in the long run is anyone's guess at this point, thus the risk.

The other part, which is likely to dominate in the long-term if Bitcoin succeeds, is a reflection of normal changes in the demand for money. Central banks usually try to dampen out demand-driven price swings by manipulating the supply of money, but they are in fact an essential part of balancing present and future demand for goods, and suppressing them leads to an economy-wide misallocation of resources.

about a week ago
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Dell Starts Accepting Bitcoin

JesseMcDonald Re:Untraceable (152 comments)

... the blockchain will forever hold every single transaction it has ever processed. It's the complete opposite of untraceable.

That depends on what you're trying to trace. While it's true that the transactions themselves are public knowledge, they don't include any personally identifiable information. Tracing the movement of bitcoins through a series of single-use addresses on the blockchain is easy; tracing the changes in real-world ownership is an entirely different matter. Unlike money moving through a series of bank accounts, there is no central entity to tell you who controls each address.

about a week ago
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Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

JesseMcDonald Re:No excuses left (390 comments)

Free market capitalism is like a wild horse. Powerful, fast and strong.

Also not terribly productive until you put reigns on it and channel that strength towards useful goals.

The difference is that, unlike wild horses, a free market is made up of free individuals with individual rights. You're talking about putting reins on people and channeling their efforts toward ends you consider productive. Think about that for a moment. There's a word for harnessing people and putting them to work for you without regard for their rights: slavery.

The unharnessed free market may not be quite as "productive" (from your perspective) as a captive, harnessed, non-free market, but a choice between "productive" slavery and "unproductive" freedom is really no choice at all. Slavery isn't an option.

about a week ago
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Court Rejects Fox's Attempt to Use Aereo Ruling Against Dish's Hopper

JesseMcDonald Re:Need a EULA for video (67 comments)

What's true is that if the EULA says "you may do X only if you do Y", then nobody can force you to do Y, but then you also don't have the right to do X.

That's only true if you needed their permission to do X in the first place. The EULA can't unilaterally revoke your existing rights. Generally the enforceability of a EULA rests on copyright; if you're not doing anything that would violate the copyright, you have no need to agree to the EULA. (And—in the US—simply using media you already have a legal copy of is not a copyright violation; the "temporary copy inside the computer's hard disk or RAM" reasoning originally used to justify most EULAs was struck down ages ago, when the copy is essential to the use of the media.)

about two weeks ago
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Rand Paul and Silicon Valley's Shifting Political Climate

JesseMcDonald Re:Silicon Valley is officially old (533 comments)

They concentrate and consume a disproportionately large percentage of the resources while producing similar amounts of work as everyone else.

You do realize that productivity is measured by economic value, right? Not by energy expended? If you're so sure that others making far more than yourself are doing similar amounts of work, why not apply for their position? You can do the job, right? Why wouldn't they jump at the chance to save a bunch of money paying you 2x instead of paying the current guy 10x? For that matter, why haven't they done this already? There's no shortage of people looking for work.

Perhaps there's more to the job than you realize.

about two weeks ago
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Rand Paul and Silicon Valley's Shifting Political Climate

JesseMcDonald Re:More Like Subsidized (533 comments)

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary." But men are definitely, definitely not angels. Libertarians think that if everybody else would just "wake up, sheeple!" they would be enlightened like them and of course would adhere to rules of common decency and fair play.

You're thinking of pacifists, or possibly communists. Libertarians are the realists in this scenario; we realize that humans are imperfect, and that, as a direct consequence of this, giving a select group of imperfect humans the practically unlimited power of government is not a recipe for a better world. ("Select" because, for the most part, they are self-selected as the most likely to abuse the position... one doesn't generally set out to become a politician out of the belief that people have the the right to live their lives peaceably without third-party interference.)

Libertarians are opposed to all abuses of power, not just those which originate from government. We oppose the government specifically because it embodies the systematic abuse of power, and, unlike other criminal organizations, maintains the pretense that its abuses are somehow "legitimate". That does not mean that we are OK with non-government entities violating others' rights, or think that in the absence of government everyone would "just get along". There will continue to be bad actors out there; we will still need to defend ourselves against them. But without government they at least won't have a ready-made system available to amplify their offenses and shield them from the consequences.

about two weeks ago
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Obama Administration Says the World's Servers Are Ours

JesseMcDonald Re:Overreach (749 comments)

Well then, if we're talking about a subpoena rather than a warrant then that's an entirely different matter. Warrants are much more powerful in some ways, but for that reason are much more constrained. If you fail to turn over subpoena'd information without a very good explanation then you should expect the court to presume that it would have been as damaging as possible to your case, meaning you'll probably lose.

However, no one should ever face fines or jail time for simply refusing to comply with this or any other form of court order. The ability to hand out fines and jail time for "contempt of court" makes the courts much too powerful; this is a stark example of the "rule of man" rather than "rule of law" and has no place in a free society.

about two weeks ago
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Obama Administration Says the World's Servers Are Ours

JesseMcDonald Re: Maybe, maybe not. (749 comments)

If I walked into your office with a subpoena for Betsy in the next cube's car and you know she keeps her keys in her purse you are obligated to get the keys from her purse even though you don't own the car nor the purse.

If that is the actual legal situation (I have my doubts) then I can only say that the legal situation is mind-numbingly stupid. That would make a subpoena far more powerful than a warrant, with far less justification. No one should have that kind of power; the courts are no exception.

about two weeks ago
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Obama Administration Says the World's Servers Are Ours

JesseMcDonald Overreach (749 comments)

A warrant should only mean that someone has been granted a legal right to search for and seize specific property. It should not mean that the owner has any obligation to do anything other than stay out of their way. In particular, if the property is not on the premises (or, as in this case, is entirely out of the court's jurisdiction), there is no reason the owner should feel obligated to say where it is or fetch it. Make them get a warrant for the correct place first—if they can. After all, a warrant is supposed to "particularly [describe] the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

about two weeks ago
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Dubai's Climate-Controlled Dome City Is a Dystopia Waiting To Happen

JesseMcDonald Re:load of rubbish (265 comments)

If you live in an area where AC is mandatory and cannot be overcome with proper architecture (earth sheltering, big shaded porches, fans, etc.) then you're living in a place not viable and should relocate. Not because 'I say so' but because economics should be telling you that.

Nonsense. The economics only says that you should relocate if the cost of relocating (including giving up local opportunities like employment and access to natural resources and infrastructure) is less than the cost of the mandatory A/C. It's perfectly reasonable to stay in an area which requires A/C (or heating, or both depending on the season) if the cost of climate control is offset by other benefits.

about two weeks ago
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Use of Encryption Foiled the Cops a Record 9 Times In 2013

JesseMcDonald Re:Correction...That you know of... (115 comments)

It's clear something is encrypted because you have to have it clear the file system should not overwrite and the markers make it quite clear that it's not just random noise.

Sometimes encrypted data is stored inside a container that makes it clear that it's encrypted. However, that isn't always the case. If I run "dd if=/dev/urandom of=file count=2K" then I have one megabyte of data that won't be overwritten by the filesystem, but there is no way to tell from the contents whether it's encrypted or random noise. If it were encrypted, the only way to prove it would be to find a key that decrypts it into something intelligible. The problem in this case is that it's obvious that the file exists, and I would need to come up with a good excuse for having a file full of random noise lying around on my hard disk. (Perhaps I'm researching properties of PRNGs?)

There are ways to go further and make it impossible to know whether there is anything there at all. For example, an encrypted filesystem can be designed to set aside a fixed amount of space for a nested "hidden volume", initialized to random noise. Since the hidden volume is always present there is no proof that I set it up deliberately or have access to the contents; there may not even be a valid decryption key. If I say that I installed the system to keep my private financial documents in the top layer, and never set up the hidden volume, there's no way to prove otherwise simply by analyzing the filesystem.

And then there's steganography, where you replace expected randomness with random-seeming ciphertext. In this case (if properly implemented) there is nothing to indicate that the encrypted data is present at all. In the second case the hidden volume provides plausible deniability by design, but in the case of steganography the randomness is an unavoidable side-effect of some other process, like the least-significant bits in raw image file or audio stream, so there is no need to explain it away.

about three weeks ago
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U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

JesseMcDonald Re:The egg comes first, the chicken later. (1330 comments)

I'm willing to limit the conversation to 'in the womb'...

In case it wasn't obvious, that was the "life support" part. Regardless of how one feels about actively killing the fetus, I would support the right of the mother to remove it from the womb and leave it to its own devices—even given that it can't possibly survive on its own.

Also, we don't allow the killing of unwanted infants, so your logic stumbles a bit.

That's a separate issue—and you're committing the is/ought fallacy—but I'll address it anyway. The same rule applies. I would consider it morally and ethically wrong to actively kill an infant, though I obviously lack any standing to interfere should someone else choose to do so. However, I would support the right of the parents to withdraw their support and abandon the infant to its own devices. Put another way, the infant has the right to life, so no one else can take its life, but the parents have no obligation to provide it with whatever it needs in order to live. Neither, of course, can they stop others from doing so; taking the child to be raised voluntarily by others would be perfectly fine so long as you don't try to punish the parents for abandoning it.

about three weeks ago
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U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

JesseMcDonald Re:The egg comes first, the chicken later. (1330 comments)

However rudimentary it is, if left alone it will most likely develop into a human.

No, only if provided with life-support for several months, plus intensive parental care for several years, will it most likely develop into a human. Left alone it will almost certainly die.

The "what if this happened to me" argument doesn't apply because the only people capable of asking that question are at the point where they really can survive and even prosper if they are simply left alone. In other words, it can't happen to them.

The right to life doesn't imply a right to life support.

about three weeks ago

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