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California Going Ahead With Bullet Train

LibRT Re:Equals 1 billion flights (709 comments)

Yes, it is - what is it you think pays for the operation of the aircraft and the fees they pay the airport such that the airport can operate? The cost of airline tickets (and incidentals like luggage fees) pays for the operation of the airline.

about 3 years ago
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China To Cancel College Majors That Don't Pay

LibRT Re:Is it that bad? (463 comments)

That's a very confused post.

"Liberty" does not equate to the right to have the government provide a course of study in any subject you desire. Of course, it does mean that you can pay to study whatever you want, provided there's someone willing to sell instruction in it.

"...we should...provide a basic income to everyone who wants one..." What you are saying here is that I should go to work such that part of my work day should go towards someone who does not go to work, because unless you have people who go to work and then forcibly take some of the money those people earn from them, there will be no money to give away for free. In case you aren't aware (and it seems you aren't), there is no such thing as "government money", except by way of expropriating money from people who work. In short, the solution to "provide a basic income" is to get a fucking job.

"...hold challenges to stimulate innovation..." These challenges are already held: you win a prize if you come up with useful innovation, and the value of the prize is determined by how useful people find your innovation. Contests are held all day, every day, and you can participate at your will or whim. These contests are lumped together under the banner of the "free market", and you can find examples of past winners in the iStuff you have and the flat screen TV you own and the refrigerator you use and many more things in your world.

about 3 years ago
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California Going Ahead With Bullet Train

LibRT Equals 1 billion flights (709 comments)

A tenth of a trillion dollars to build this?!? A round trip flight from LA to SF costs about $100, which means you could provide just under one billion round trip flights between LA and SF for the same price (and reduce travel time to 1.5 hours).

Let's say for the sake of argument (and because I don't know the real figure) there are 10,000 people who travel between LA and SF each day. For that same tenth of a trillion, you could fly each of these people return, every day of the year, for almost 274 years.

Like all things managed by government, the economics come from bizarro land. It's like reading articles that a government is "investing" $300,000,000 in order to fulfil "short term housing needs" by providing 1,500 "permanent beds" for homeless people - make you wonder why they don't just give these 1,500 people $200,000 each (except that $290,000,000 ends up spent on the bureaucracy to "support" the exercise).

about 3 years ago
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Valve's Gabe Newell On Piracy: It's Not a Pricing Problem

LibRT It's about the customer (466 comments)

This guy has identified exactly the issue, which seems to elude almost every software company, and music and video publishers too (and an astonishing amount of executives in other fields too): it is all about putting the customer first. When companies put DRM on their product, and other impediments to product satisfaction, they are putting their customer last. The problem is fundamentally one of mistaken priorities at an executive level: sometimes that manifests itself as DRM, sometimes it manifests itself as not putting a superior product out for fear of "cannibalizing" an existing product, sometimes it shows itself in hidden fees and misleading terms. These are all symptoms of the same mistaken priorities.

about 3 years ago
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88-Year-Old Inventor Hassled By the DEA

LibRT Re:Wrong. (757 comments)

Been a long day and perhaps my brain just ain't so sharp at the moment, but I don't get your point about "...keep the units straight": on average, in any arbitrary set of 100,000 Americans, about 1 will be killed by a drunk driver, 4 will be murdered and 11 will commit suicide (and somewhere around 146 will die as a result of tobacco smoking). In only one of those scenarios do police attempt to pre-emptively prevent the outcome by arbitrarily stopping people at police check points absent any probable cause. I'm also regularly shocked by the lack of relative attention suicide gets.

You're right: meth is very insidious - I too have a friend who is a "husk" - he went completely nuts on it, coke and ecstacy and ended up in the mental ward of the hospital and he never came back to normal. I visited him every day for the first 30 days he was in there and your description of "husk" is spot on: the guy I knew just didn't live there anymore.

However, there are lots and lots of things which are not particularly good for humans. My point is pragmatic, not Darwinian: prohibition has worse consequences and outcomes than non-prohibition. Are there still horrible outcomes? Yup. But fewer. And adults ought to be free to do what they want, including things which are demonstrably sub-optimal.

about 3 years ago
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Microsoft Just Can't Quit Yahoo

LibRT Re:First (124 comments)

"Billions in the bank" does not equal, nor is it a prerequisite for, evil. But then again, I am not an ms shill like you.

about 3 years ago
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Climate May Be Less Sensitive To CO2 Than Previously Thought

LibRT Re:saved! (413 comments)

"...there's only 40 years of oil left" is a ridiculous statement, because it presupposes numerous things:

- that the price of oil will not increase as it becomes more scarce (if oil prices were increased to $1000/barrel today, would you still say there are 40 years left?), which in turn would impact consumption, increase the economic viability of alternatives and spur investment in innovation to develop so far unknown alternatives; and

- that the quantity of all the oil in existence in known (hint: it's not - exploration and finds continue)

among other things...

about 3 years ago
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Microsoft Just Can't Quit Yahoo

LibRT Re:First (124 comments)

I think you have that exactly backwards: microsoft had a "monopoly" because they are evil.

about 3 years ago
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88-Year-Old Inventor Hassled By the DEA

LibRT Re:Wrong. (757 comments)

Drunk driving is one of the most over-hyped causes, just behind "terrorism" (which you rightly point out doesn't kill many people either). In the US, the percentage of the population which died from drunk driving in 2009 is around 0.0036%. Of those, 67% were the drunk drivers themselves. So your odds of being killed by a drunk driver are somewhere around 1 in 100,000. You have 4 times greater chance of being murdered and about 11 times greater chance of committing suicide.

Of course, it serves as a serviceable excuse for arbitrary police check points and routine 4th amendment violations, so at least there's something coming out of it...

about 3 years ago
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88-Year-Old Inventor Hassled By the DEA

LibRT Re:Wrong. (757 comments)

Way off topic, but this is precisely why countries like Pakistan will never seriously make efforts to kill the people the US wants them to kill: as long as they get billions of dollars to "fight terrorism", there is very little incentive to stop "terrorism" and every incentive to make it appear they are occasionally helpful but never actually particularly effective. It's like anything whereby payment is made based on intentions or actions, rather than results.

about 3 years ago
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88-Year-Old Inventor Hassled By the DEA

LibRT Re:Wrong. (757 comments)

The reason your meth head friend commits crime to support his habit is because the drugs are expensive. The reason they are expensive is because they are prohibited. The reason people kill to stake out territory in the drug trade is because the margins are fucking enormous, and every time ridiculous ideas like minimum sentencing get enacted, the margins just go higher, and the bar is raised so that you get more and more harder core people involved.

Compare this to alcohol: some subset of the population becomes addicted to it (incidentally, a rather substantial subset, compared to the illicit drug subset), but it is legal, there is quality control, the price is reasonable and there are very few people who commit crimes to obtain it (altho an enormous percentage of prison inmates were under the influence of it when their crimes were committed, again, a far, far larger subset than those who were under the influence of other, prohibited drugs when they committed their crimes).

Alcohol prohibition in the US should have taught law makers the results of prohibiting substances - hell, there remain, many generations later, crime families who got their start because of prohibition (no, I'm not talking about the Kennedys). But as others have pointed out, there are an awful lot of people who profit legally from its prohibition, like the DEA and the ATF and the FBI and the rest of the state apparatus, which never, ever gets smaller or goes away.

An ordinary person would look at a few decades of the "war on drugs", examine the costs (both financial and to liberties) and then examine the results: did the problem go away? Was it reduced? Or did it get worse, and more violent? Does having the largest prison population on the planet, about 2 million of whom are imprisoned for rather trivial drug offenses, make the country safer, or do they learn to become criminals while in prison? What's harder for a school-aged kid to get: heroin or alcohol? Anyone who sees those results and thinks it's money and effort and freedom well spent should get their head examined - prohibition is hurting an awful lot of people for no discernible upside.

about 3 years ago
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88-Year-Old Inventor Hassled By the DEA

LibRT Re:Wrong. (757 comments)

The third point I'd add is that it eliminates any hope of quality control and dosage control. I used to live in Vancouver, which has a pretty damn hard core junkie area at Main and Hastings (and if I recall, the highest concentration of AIDS patients in North America, primarily due to needle sharing - that stretch was also just bloody nuts on welfare day, which was known as "Mardi Gras", and it's the same stretch where Pickton trolled for prostitutes, over the years taking 49 or so back to his pig farm for parties that ended with him killing them, which the police generally ignored because they were "just" hookers and junkies). Every now and then some ultra pure heroin would flood the market and a whole bunch of people would die.

Virtually every single problem associated with drugs like heroin is a function of its illegal status.

about 3 years ago
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88-Year-Old Inventor Hassled By the DEA

LibRT Re:Wrong. (757 comments)

I think it's time people realize that humans like to alter their experience of reality in various ways, and that it is not possible to eliminate this human urge: some people like roller coasters; some people like meditation; some people like alcohol; some people like caffeine and some people like crack or heroin. A lot of people like to make arbitrary distinctions between these: some are "good" (like amusement parks and meditation), some are "acceptable" (like caffeine and alcohol) and some are "evil" (like marijuana or heroin). But these distinctions are exactly that: arbitrary. And more importantly: if someone wants to spend their day in their living room doing crack, why should that be anyone else's concern whatsoever? There are orders of magnitude more harm done by making substances illegal and then calling them "evil" and declaring a demonstrably failed, $1 trillion "war" on them.

about 3 years ago
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Baker Has to Make 102,000 Cupcakes For Grouponers

LibRT Re:The Law of Unintended Consequences... (611 comments)

You're right: she lost just $0.20 per cupcake at a 75% discount. So if the normal price of her cupcakes is $1/each, her gross margin is 55%, and if the normal price is $2/each, it's 65%. But I don't think anyone's getting rich making cupcakes - haven't heard of any "cupcake billionaires".

Fuck. Now I have a craving for a cupcake...anyone have a groupon handy?

about 3 years ago
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Petition Calls For Making Net Access Inalienable Right

LibRT Terrible Idea (427 comments)

While I'm profoundly opposed to internet regulation via SOPA (and via so-called "net neutrality" as well, which actually means "net regulation" except that it is regulated in a way some people find favorable), this proposal is a particularly poor idea.

As some others have pointed out, the US Constitution is not a place to enumerate people's rights - people have rights regardless of the Constitution. The Constitution exists to limit the government's rights. As soon as you start enumerating people's rights in that fine document, you've turned it on its head (and will open a line of attack on other, unenumerated, rights). Really, the onus should be on the government to prove it is acting within the limited confines of the Constitution, rather than the people having to prove it is not (with mixed results).

It is astonishing to me that a great many people think they only have rights because the government has deigned to give them those rights. That is not the case.

more than 2 years ago
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New Study Finds People Remember More Than They Think

LibRT Re:A good book on the topic... (172 comments)

Thanks - I'll check that out!

The book I mentioned touches a bit on that, ie "...if you've ever bought an expensive item you'd sworn you'd never buy, the salesperson was probably a master at creating the "illusion of choice," a core technique of magic."

It's all very fascinating stuff (at least to me), and as you mention, for the most part, we really don't know what the hell is going on in a lot of our day-to-day decision making/observations, and fill in our "reasons" after the fact.

more than 2 years ago
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New Study Finds People Remember More Than They Think

LibRT A good book on the topic... (172 comments)

I read a fascinating book on the topic, called "Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions" - highly recommend it - the authors investigate what happens from a neurological perspective when magicians perform tricks, and also how we routinely deceive ourselves about the "reality" we think we perceive (deceptions which magicians routinely rely upon).

more than 3 years ago
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The $443 Million Smallpox Vaccine That Nobody Needs

LibRT Re:News for nerds?? (290 comments)

I can't imagine any libertarian in favor of one in five people working for the government, which is the case in Greece (US isn't far behind, at about 1 in 7)...

more than 3 years ago
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Google Music Downloads To Go Ahead Without Sony Or Warner

LibRT Re:Google has a major problem (220 comments)

"...if it does not produce a sizable return in just a single 6 week quarter" - ya, they ought to give their products at least an 8 week quarter!

more than 3 years ago
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End Bonuses For Bankers

LibRT Government Dictated Compensation (548 comments)

I suppose it's only a matter of time until the government does indeed get into the act and dictate maximum compensation - they are already in the business of dictating compensation, insofar as demanding people sell their labor for not less than a government dictated price (ie minimum wage laws), so price-fixing of labor at the other end of the spectrum is a natural progression. People already accept that it is appropriate for government to remove the free will of an individual to sell his or her labor at the price of his or her choosing when that person picks a price point too low; it's natural that the government would next remove the free will of an individual to buy labor at the price of his or her choosing - really, it's all just a matter of degrees once you cede the principle that adults are free to decide their labor's price.

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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Police Sergeant Tasers Junior Officer During Argum

LibRT LibRT writes  |  more than 3 years ago

LibRT (1966204) writes "An Ontario Provincial Police sergeant zapped a junior officer with a Taser during a dispute in the force’s Nottawasaga detachment.
The officer who was hit wasn’t injured in the emotionally charged dispute on Oct. 14 at the detachment in Alliston in the Georgian Bay area, said OPP Insp. Dave Ross.
“You really don’t want to encourage this type of performance management.” said the head of the OPP's union."

Link to Original Source
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EU court rules against stem cell patents for resea

LibRT LibRT writes  |  more than 3 years ago

LibRT (1966204) writes "Europe's highest court has ruled that stem cells from human embryos cannot be patented, in a case that could have major implications for medicine.

Scientists say the Court of Justice decision may impede European research into the use of stem cell therapies, or drive research abroad.

The European Court of Justice said in a statement: "The use of human embryos for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes which are applied to the human embryo and are useful to it is patentable.

"But their use for purposes of scientific research is not patentable."

It added: "A process which involves removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst [early embryo] stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented.""

Link to Original Source
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Tanks test infra-red invisibility cloak

LibRT LibRT writes  |  more than 3 years ago

LibRT (1966204) writes "The technology allows vehicles to mimic the temperature of their surroundings.

It can also make a tank look like other objects, such as a cow or car, when seen through heat-sensitive 'scopes.

Researchers are looking at ways to make it work with other wavelengths of light to confer true invisibility."

Link to Original Source
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Leaks show U.S. swayed Canada on copyright bill

LibRT LibRT writes  |  more than 3 years ago

LibRT (1966204) writes "The Toronto Star reports documents released by Wikileaks, from the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, have a policy director for Canada's then industry minister Tony Clement suggesting it might help U.S. demands for a tough copyright law if Canada were placed among the worst offenders on an international piracy watch list. Days later, the U.S. placed Canada alongside China and Russia on the list."
Link to Original Source
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Harvard ethics student charged in massive hacking

LibRT LibRT writes  |  more than 3 years ago

LibRT (1966204) writes "A Harvard University fellow who was studying ethics was charged with hacking into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's computer network to steal nearly 5 million academic articles.
In an indictment released Tuesday, prosecutors say Swartz stole 4.8 million articles between September 2010 and January after breaking into a computer wiring closet on MIT's campus. Swartz, a student at the Harvard's Center for Ethics, downloaded so many documents during one October day that some of JSTOR's computer servers crashed, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors say Swartz intended to distribute the articles on file-sharing websites."

Link to Original Source
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UN Names N. Korea Chair of Disarmament Committee

LibRT LibRT writes  |  more than 3 years ago

LibRT (1966204) writes "The irony-challenged folks at the UN have named North Korea chair of the Conference on Disarmament, which is heavily focused on the prevention of a nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament. The Canadian government has boycotted the convention, calling it an "absurd" turn of events: "North Korea is simply not a credible chair of a disarmament body. The fact that it gets a turn chairing a United Nations committee focused on disarmament is unacceptable, given the North Korean regime's efforts in the exact opposite direction,""
Link to Original Source
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Ottawa to reverse CRTC decision on Internet billin

LibRT LibRT writes  |  more than 3 years ago

LibRT (1966204) writes "The The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) recently decided that the major internet providers may engage in usage-based billing of the wholesale customers they are required to sell to — smaller ISPs which offer significantly higher or unlimited usage. Considerable backlash ensued.

“The CRTC should be under no illusion — the Prime Minister and minister of Industry will reverse this decision unless the CRTC does it itself,” a senior Conservative government official said Wednesday. “If they don’t reconsider we will reverse their decision.”

CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein is scheduled to explain the decision Thursday before the House of Commons industry committee."

Link to Original Source

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