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First Detailed Data Analysis Shows Exactly How Comcast Jammed Netflix

Jodka End the ISP monopolies (187 comments)

from wikipedia

Franchise fees are governed under Section 622 of the Cable Communications Act of 1984.[2] Section 622, states that municipalities are entitled to a maximum of 5% of gross revenues derived from the operation of the cable system for the provision of cable services such as Public, educational, and government access (PEG) TV channels.

Franchise fees are fixed at a maximum of 5% of gross revenues. So how do municipalities maximize revenues from franchise fees? By maximizing cable company gross revenues. And how do municipalities maximize cable company gross revenues? By creating monopolies! By awarding exclusive license to one provider to extract monopolist profits from the public.

Note that there is nothing inherently wrong with permitting local governments to charge cable companies fees. That is justifiable to the extent that local governments incur costs of infrastructure repair with damage from cable installation. All that is needed is a single addendum to the law, one prohibiting local governments from creating monopolies. The law could simply mandate that municipalities must offer franchise licenses to all ISPs if they offer licenses to one and that all licencees must be be charged at the same rate.

The only reason we have cable monopolies in the U.S. is because the Cable Communications Act of 1984 created that perverse incentive. Other countries without such laws have much faster service at much lower prices.

If federal law permitted local governments to do this sort of thing with groceries, computers and cars we would have regional monopolies for those products as well. Be grateful that your town council is not permitted to sell grocery, computer and car franchises.

9 hours ago
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Facebook To DEA: Stop Using Phony Profiles To Nab Criminals

Jodka Re:Government Dictionary (239 comments)

Civil asset foreiture as well as eminent domain follow a legal process with appeals routes and so on.

Not true. The cops can pull you over and help themselves to you cash. There is no "legal process" involved whatsoever.

about two weeks ago
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Facebook To DEA: Stop Using Phony Profiles To Nab Criminals

Jodka Modern Democracy: A Prediction (239 comments)

There is a fascinating and unexpected inversion here: Corporations are now standing up against government to protect the rights of citizens. Of course, most of us expect that relationship to work the other way around.

It is not just Facebook. The first sentence of this article reads: "The FBI director has slammed Apple and Google for offering their customers encryption technology that protects users’ privacy."

Today, a product which includes protection from the government has added value. A prediction: In the future, corporate protection from government intrusion and persecution will become the product. Smart corporations such as Tesla (see Nevada tax deal) or Apple and Google (see double Irish Dutch sandwich) have special rights or have exempted themselves from government rules by using loopholes. Meanwhile, every day there is news of the federal government becoming increasingly insane. Like today. Increasingly, the government is engaging in unethical, illegal activities such as theft. As demand from protection from the federal government increases with the growing abuses, corporations will meet that demand by sheltering customers under their own umbrellas.

about two weeks ago
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Debian's Systemd Adoption Inspires Threat of Fork

Jodka This one is different (555 comments)

from the summary

"They just don't want other parts of the system to be wholly dependent on systemd."

That is really the crux of the issue and what distinguishes the systemd dispute from all the other FOSS food fights. The FOSS community never agrees on anything. That is why we have multiple everything: Multiple Kernels (BSD & Linux Kernels, multiple flavors of each) many distributions of each flavor, a host of programming and scripting languages, multiple package management tools (rpm, portage, dpkg) several GUI toolkits, GNOME and KDE desktop environments etc. Wayland is not enough, we must also have Mir. And the licenses. Egads! How many of those do we need?

Despite all the passion and ego involved, disagreement between adherents of particular designs and implementations has never before risen to the level of open revolt that we see over systemd. Why? Because in all these disputes each person can choose what is best for him/herself. Like Python and despise Perl? Use Python. Vice versa? Use Perl. But the usual rule of the user getting to pick what he likes best does not apply with systemd. Lennart Poettering is working to restrict choice to only systemd. His tactic is to make systemd a dependency of major software packages. Here he ison the Gnome dev list pushing a Gnome systemd dependency.

Sometimes an unpopular item is replaced on the buffet; Good software wins out and variety shrinks a bit. That can be a good thing. But the fear is that systmd is going to win not because it is a popular choice but because Poettering has gamed the outcome using dependencies. Something is wrong if you are running systemd because you hate it and you love Gnome. Perhaps the fanatical hatred of Poettering is driven by belief that systemd adoption is advanced in part by his cheating, instead of on the merits of systemd alone. The abusers are abusing not because he has written what they judge to be bad software but because he has violated an unspoken ethic of the FOSS community.

about two weeks ago
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Michigan About To Ban Tesla Sales

Jodka It's a Republican Thing (294 comments)

According to this map, state bans on Tesla sales are a Republican thing.

The Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, is a Republican. The Michigan State Senate has a 26-to-12 Republican majority and in the House a 59-to-50 Republican majority. With control of both the executive and legislative branches of government, it is certainly Republicans who are accountable for revoking the freedom to purchase a Tesla in Michigan.

By the way, it is election season, and I have noticed signs in my neighborhood stating, "For freedom, vote Republican."

about two weeks ago
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Flight Attendants Want Stricter Gadget Rules Reinstated

Jodka Unions (406 comments)

"...the nation's largest flight attendant union is now suing the FAA to have the ban on gadget use during takeoff and landing reinstated."

An excellent example of how unions supplant an eagerness of workers to meet customers wants and needs with an attitude of wanton truculence.

about two weeks ago
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Who's In Charge During the Ebola Crisis?

Jodka Shilling for Socialism (279 comments)

from the commentary linked in the summary:

" If changing to a single-payer national system is, for political reasons, out of the question, then, at the very least, the Affordable Care Act must be fully implemented in all states. "

"Single-payer." Like the VA. Because unaccountable, lying government officials and patients dying while on fake waiting lists are exactly what we need during an ebola epidemic.

And Obamacare. Because of Obamacare I can not afford medical care. My premiums are about 3x before Obamacare. My deductible is $5,000.00. I am taxed $300.00/month on my health insurance because I am employed at a small company which can not purchase the plan directly from an insurer. (Obamacare revokes the tax exemption for employer-subsidized health insurance.) I am buying the least-expensive plan mandated by Obamacare to avoid the penalty and paying about $1,300.00 per month in insurance and taxes. I had a shoulder injury, went to an in-network doctor and had to pay for the entire visit, treatment and the physical therapy myself.

To summarize, now, because of Obamacare, I am required by law to pay $1,300.00 per month for health insurance and taxes at a minimum and on top of that I have to pay for my own medical expenses. Because of Obamacare, unless I am absolutely certain that I am dying I will not be going anywhere near a health care provider. By both making the patients poorer with higher insurance premiums and by raising the cost of treatment with higher deductibles Obamacare has created a massive financial disincentive to seeing medical care during an epidemic. And then also there is the decreased access to health care because of shrinking provide networks.

In addition to advocating for evidently broken and corrupt systems, the author wants to re-write the Constitution. You know, that document which guarantees citizens rights. What could possibly go wrong?

 

about two weeks ago
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PETA Is Not Happy That Google Used a Camel To Get a Desert "StreetView"

Jodka Did anyone ask the camel? (367 comments)

I do not know any camels personally but I grew up with horses and I can tell you they like to work. Sure, they would always rather be eating, like pigs but with longer legs. Yet some of them seem to enjoy the company of people and are eager to please. Imagine a large vegetarian dog. Camels are a different species but the point here is that there is no basis a priori to believe that the camel was abused or even inconvenienced by taking a walk in the desert with a camera on its back. Sure, it seems miserably hot and dry, but we are anthropomorphising;Camels are adapted to the desert.

Some animals do suffer terrible abuse in the hands of people which makes it especially unfortunate that an organization dedicated to their rescue and protection is governed by batshit crazy people like Ingrid Newkirk. Unfortunate both because their antics discourage mainstream donations and support, and because the donations which they do receive are often misdirected to this kind of bullshit. (or camelshit.)

That is the problem with "good causes." They can be perverted or hijacked to serve any end and are impossible to oppose successfully. Who strongly defended Bill Clinton's serial molestations and ignored Bob Packwood's? Women's rights activists. What group works hardest to trap poor children in failing schools by blocking reform? The National Education Association. What legislation encroaches on the rights of patients, guarantees profits for insurance companies and is making health insurance increasingly unaffordable for the middle class? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And remember the Patriot Act?

Self promotion of your own virtue is a gambit. A good cause is a power grab. If you want to succeed in acts unpopular, illegitimate, or harmful, first enshrine yourself as a public symbol of virtue.

about two weeks ago
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New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance

Jodka Re:Not the only strategy (324 comments)

It's a race to the bottom, my friend. You don't out-compete countries with less than a few million inhabitants and no significant social programs.

You mean, like Canada? It has a 26% rate, compared the US's 40% rate. Yeah, third-world hell holes like Canada always whore around with those low numbers, right?

Other third-world hell-holes: Estonia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden and Australia. They have the five least burdensome taxes among the 34 OECD nations according to the Tax Foundation’s International Tax Competitiveness Index (pdf, rankings on page 5).

Canada ranks 24th. The United States ranks 32nd with an overall score of 44.6% (to Estonia's 100%), better than only Portugal and France.

about a month and a half ago
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Tesla Plans To Power Its Gigafactory With Renewables Alone

Jodka True North? (260 comments)

from the linked article at engineering.com:

"Musk said that the factory would be aligned with true north so equipment could be located with GPS ..."

Can anyone here make sense of that statement? GPS only works when buildings are aligned with true north?

about 2 months ago
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Tesla's Next Auto-Dealer Battleground State: Georgia

Jodka Stagnancy bogus. Math is hard. (157 comments)

from the summary:

"...as reported by the L.A. Times, is that recent electric car sales in the U.S. have been stagnant"

from the LA Times:

"Sales of electric drive vehicles are stuck at about 3.6% of all new car sales for 2014"

"And that's during an otherwise robust sales season. Total figures for August were higher than any time in the last decade."

So the absolute number of electric car sales is increasing but their market share is not. The reporter, one "Charles Fleming," seems not to comprehend that a fixed percentage of an increasing value is itself an increasing value. "Stagnant," is the wrong term to describe an increase in sales. Math is hard.

about 2 months ago
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NSA Agents Leak Tor Bugs To Developers

Jodka secrecy (116 comments)

Tor developer Andrew Lewman says... agents from [NSA and GCHQ ] leak flaws directly to the developers, so they can be fixed quickly.

Why announce that publicly? The NSA and GCHQ will now attempt to to shut down the leaks and arrest the leakers. Even if they fail, it is certain to scare the leakers and make leaking more difficult.

"You have to think about the type of people who would be able to do this and have the expertise and time to read Tor source....

Why give those agencies clues to help them figure out who are the leakers?

   

about 2 months ago
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California May Waive Environmental Rules For Tesla

Jodka abolish all environmental regulations (327 comments)

California State and federal EPA environmental regulations are all unnecessary and harmful. The massive, wasteful, expensive, totalitarian, sadistic and incompetent EPA bureaucracy can be abolished and the environment made cleaner and safer. All that is required to efficiently limit environmental pollution and risks to any desired levels are these two measures:

1. The government implements pollution monitoring and sells tradable pollution licenses for individual pollutants in specified quantities. It buys back licenses to reduce emissions. It sells more credits to increase emissions.

2. The government monetizes risk by mandating bonding, requiring that any enterprise which risks accidental environmental damage hold a bond at the value of the maximum potential damage. (Offshore drilling is a good example.) This prevents companies from causing damage which they can not afford to pay for. The cap also limits the feeding frenzy among lawyers after an accident. To reduce risk exposure the government mandates more expensive bonds. To decrease risk exposure the government mandates less expensive bonds. Let insurers price and sell bonds to those business which are required to buy them. Obviously, the actual price of the bond to the purchaser from the insurer will typically be less than the nominal value of the bond because the price will be the nominal value of the bond multiplied by a risk factor usually less than 1.

Those two measures in combination reduce pollution and accident risks to any desired level with high efficiency and they do so equitably. Externalities are bad. Internalize externalities by compelling polluters to pay for the costs of polluting and the risk-takers to safeguard against risk.

That system allows state and local preferences for pollution levels and corporate favors to combine easily and transparently with national standards. Suppose that system was actually in place in California and Tesla was lured in with either subsidies or by slackening environmental regulations. Well, under that system, it would be done by giving/subsidizing/purchasing Tesla pollution licenses and adjusting the bond requirements or subsidizing a bond. Those actions would have assigned monetary values and identifiable and quantifiable changes to the level of pollution and risk. So we would know exactly what doing favors for Tesla costs the environment in increased pollution and risk and what it costs the taxpayer in dollars.

                   

about 3 months ago
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Where are the Flying Cars? (Video; Part One of Two)

Jodka Six Reasons (107 comments)

Six reasons we do not have flying cars:

1. Unforgivingness: Run out of gas, stall, fail to perform scheduled maintenance? You plummet and die. Road vehicles are more forgiving of errors and faults.
2. Regulation: There is an overwhelming regulatory burden imposed by the FAA. This restricts R&D, commercialization and ownership.
3. Expertise: Piloting requires specialized skills and extensive training.
4. Expense: Flying vehicles are expensive.
5. Infrastructure: The air traffic control system can not handle ubiquitous flying vehicles. Take-off and landing zones are not ubiquitous. For short distances, it is inefficient to to the airport to fly to the next airport to drive to where you are going, Why not just drive to where you are going to start with? For longer distances, drive to the airport and take a plane. The flying car only makes sense if we put airports everywhere. Yes, VTOL would mitigate this.
6. Inherent inefficiency: Hauling your car around with you everywhere you fly? Carrying your airplane with you everywhere you drive? A combination car/plane of the future makes about as much sense as traveling with your car on a commercial passenger flight today.

You are stuck with #6; Flying cars might just be an inherently stupid idea. Other barriers can be overcome with technology and mass commercialization except for the FAA regulatory burden and restrictions.

Ubiquitous personal air transport makes more sense for short to medium distances if you do not try to make combination, flyable/roadable vehicle. As-the-crow-flies routes are way more efficient than road networks and with automated navigation and automated air-traffic control there would be no traffic jams in 3 dimensions. Automated VTOL would largely obviate road travel.

about 3 months ago
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About Half of Kids' Learning Ability Is In Their DNA

Jodka Re:The elephant in the room. (227 comments)

Race Differences and the Out-of-Africa theory of Human Origins. East Asian-White-Black differences fit the theory that modern humans arose in Africa about 100,000 years ago and expanded northward. During prolonged winters there was evolutionary selection for higher IQ created by problems of raising children, gathering and storing food, gaining shelter, and making clothes.

And/Or possibly by interbreeding with neanderthals. They had larger brains than modern humans.

The higher IQ of caucasians likely developed due to the cold, temperate climate of Northern Europe which required more long term planning and skilled crafts to develop technologies to survive the cold winters. The cold winters heavily selected for higher IQ, whilst the tropical environment, where the fruit hangs on the true all year, does not.

Neanderthals inhabited cold northern climates over 300,000 before present. We know they were extremely muscular, they were also probably highly intelligent. Perhaps they were, literally, superhuman. Modern Europeans are partially descended from them.

Those comments are speculative obviously, but testable, because we have sequenced neanderthal DNA. In fact there have been many ancient and modern migrations into Europe. There was an ancient invasion into central Europe of agriculturalists from the middle east, and the medieval Jewish diaspora into the Rhine Valley. Mongols reached Poland, not sure how much DNA they left behind.

It would be interesting if the ancient genetic origins of distinguishing modern European behavioral traits could be identified. Interesting because Europe is unique in the high degree of genetic mixing which has gone on for such a long period. Other societies not so much, they are more genetically homogeneous. Judging from tremendous achievements of Europeans in science, art and technology, diversity is a good thing. Diversity in the traditional sense of the word, not in the modern sense of eligibility for affirmative action handouts.

about 3 months ago
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French Provider Free Could Buy US Branch of T-Mobile

Jodka Because Taxes (111 comments)

U.S. companies are worth more to foreign companies than to other U.S. companies because foreign companies pay lower income taxes. A U.S. company, Emerson, lost a bid to a French company, Schneider, for APC for that reason. As the WSJ states (free access to the paywalled article via FaceBook):

In 2006, Emerson sought to acquire a company called American Power Conversion (APC). This was a Rhode Island-based company that made more than half of its earnings outside the U.S. Unfortunately, Emerson competed against Schneider Electric, a French company, to acquire APC. Emerson offered more than $5 billion, but ultimately Schneider acquired APC by offering a bid in excess of $6 billion.

Why was Schneider willing to offer more? Schneider outbid us because France's tax code—typical of most OECD countries—exempts 95% of foreign-source income from taxation, while the U.S. tax code fully taxes such income. APC's profits were worth more to Schneider because, once absorbed, APC's global profits (net of the taxes paid in the countries where those profits were earned) could be repatriated to Schneider's headquarters in France, where they would be taxed at less than 2%.

In contrast, earnings repatriated to the U.S. are subject to a tax rate of nearly 40%, with a credit for taxes paid abroad on that income. That dramatic difference made it possible for Schneider to offer more for APC. So what had once been an American company became French.

about 3 months ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

Jodka Re:Disengenous (306 comments)

You're not the 'efficient seller' if you lose money at it.

Though inefficiencies reduce profitability, the inference that negative profitability implies inefficiency is invalid.

Let's unpack your own reasoning here: An inefficient business will be unprofitable. Amazon is unprofitable. Therefore, Amazon is inefficient. If A, then B. B, therefore A. The category of error you have made is termed "affirming the consequent", colloquially known as Modus Morons.

Profit is, to quote WP, "the difference between the purchase and the component costs of delivered goods and/or services and any operating or other expenses." Therefore negative profitability could result from either inordinately low pricing or inordinately high expenses, or both.

about 3 months ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

Jodka same thing again (306 comments)

Amazon's pricing argument is one instance of the same general phenomenon that gross expenditures, under some conditions, increase in response to price decreases. The effect has different names in different contexts:

With taxation, people sometimes refer to the Laffer Curve, which for levels of taxation to the right of the peak of the curve, reducing tax rates increases tax revenues.

For technology, Jevons Paradox explains why, as the efficiency of home appliances increases, so does energy consumption.

My grandfather, an economist, had an amusing story about a toll bridge authority attempting to taper down revenues as the bond which funded the bridge was paid off. They lowered the toll price to reduce revenues and revenues shot up as customers responded to the lower toll price by crossing the bridge more frequently. So they lowered the toll price again and revenues shot up further. As I recall the story goes that it worked the third time.

     

about 3 months ago
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Amazon's eBook Math

Jodka Re:Disengenous (306 comments)

...using size and supply chain efficiency to force smaller guys out of business is not a good thing in the long run.

Why is it bad for efficient suppliers to replace inefficient suppliers? And why bad in the long run but not the short run?

If efficient suppliers replaced inefficient suppliers, but then in the long run inefficient suppliers returned to dominate the market, than that would be a good outcome in your view.

Can you explain your reasoning?

about 3 months ago

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