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New Service Lets You Hitch a Ride With Private Planes For Cost of Tank of Gas

Valdrax Re:um... (269 comments)

What are the requirements for driving a 3 ton vehicle these days, heartbeat and visit to the local DL office?

You forgot massive and unnecessarily burdensome documentation of your identity to help make sure college students, the elderly, and the working poor don't vote.

about a week ago
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How interested are you in Virtual Reality tech?

Valdrax Re:Oculus is the real deal, the others are hype (202 comments)

Neither. It seems a cogently argued point to me. Sony is a hardware company with its own fab resources and established relationships with manufacturer, and it controls a popular gaming platform.

What advantages does Oculus VR have that can match or overcome that?

about two weeks ago
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UK Bans Sending Books To Prisoners

Valdrax Re:begrudge education (220 comments)

There are around 8.5 million Children in the system and around 100k prisoners. Each prisoner costs way more more per head than child, per year.

Yes, and you failed to specify per capita spending when you said, "If they spent the same on education as they did on locking people up per year then maybe you wouldn't have to lock so many people up." If that was truly your intent, then you should have actually said it.

about three weeks ago
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Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

Valdrax Re:This is not a bad thing (870 comments)

The point is, quite a few jobs and entire industries no longer exist as a result of automation. We can start throwing our shoes at the machines like during the industrial revolution, or we can enjoy the benefits they bring us, accept the growing pains, and adapt to the new world.

One big difference is that jobs lost during that time period were largely fungible with new opportunities, because none of those jobs required much in the way of training -- just work ethic and physical ability. Close one factory, open a new one, get people training on a new repetitive assembly line task.

One big difference with the automation revolution is that automation is going to completely eliminate all jobs that don't require training and education, because those are the jobs most easy to automate. We've already been suffering a lot since the 80s in America's transition towards a service economy, as cheap foreign labor and robots took away all the industrial jobs.

When even service jobs become automated, there will be nothing for the non-professional class to do except try to retrain before the next job gets automated. And that ignores the elephant in the room -- that many people who work unskilled or low-skilled jobs simply aren't willing or able to train for more skilled jobs, and those people will still have themselves and families to feed.

I agree with you that we shouldn't recoil in terror from automation and enter some kind strawman dystopia where all innovation must get vetted for release, but we need to be prepared for the implications of automation, and we need to consider whether or not our economy as it stands today is simply incompatible the coming technological shift -- and which is more important?

about three weeks ago
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UK Bans Sending Books To Prisoners

Valdrax Re:begrudge education (220 comments)

Funny, because you're the one who made the comparison without understanding the order of magnitude difference in the first place.

about three weeks ago
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Russians Take Ukraine's Last Land Base In Crimea

Valdrax Re:I dont get it (551 comments)

Oh! While I knew I was oversimplifying a bit, I wasn't aware of where Timoshenko came from.
Thanks for clearing that up.

about three weeks ago
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Russians Take Ukraine's Last Land Base In Crimea

Valdrax Re:I dont get it (551 comments)

Better question? Why are the Russians taking known traitors into their military?

Because they aren't viewed as traitors by the side that's taking them. Think of them like Confederate soldiers who crossed the line to join the Union because they were put the nation before their home state. The Confederates would consider them traitors; the Union would consider them loyalists.

It's actually a lot like that time period, because the people in Ukraine consider themselves more loyal to their factional groups than to the country as a whole. Imagine how bad partisanship would be in America if both parties represented groups that literally did not speak the same language and that had the backing of different, foreign powers upon who their prosperity depended.

about three weeks ago
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Russians Take Ukraine's Last Land Base In Crimea

Valdrax Re:I dont get it (551 comments)

I don't get why the obviously loyal Ukrainian military didn't defend their bases with firepower against the invading Russians?

They didn't have the firepower necessary to hold off even an immediate attack, much win the conflict they would have started when things escalated. All they could accomplish would be to get themselves and possibly others killed. Worse, the example of Georgia has shown that the Russians will use any violent resistance as an excuse to just seize even more territory.

Some of the bases personnel essentially chose to engage in nonviolent protest, marching with flag and no guns (despite getting warning shots from the Russians). It's been a really weird conflict so far, from this distance.

about three weeks ago
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MtGox Finds 200,000 Bitcoins In Old Wallet

Valdrax Re:Thieves (227 comments)

If you're at the store, and you take a jar of peanut butter and later place it on the shelf of the produce aisle, did you shoplift?

It depends. Did you tell the store owner that it went "missing" and then plan to retrieve it later when no one else is looking?

(Either way, you're at the very least a huge douche, especially if you're the kind that puts frozen or other perishable goods in random places in the store. That point, you've at least committed conversion.)

about three weeks ago
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Ex-Microsoft Employee Arrested For Leaking Windows 8

Valdrax The name of the crime is "Theft of trade secrets." (197 comments)

If you want to get technical, in the classic torts, you are correct that this is theft and not conversion. However, he's not being charged in a tort case. He's being charged for a violation of the Economic Espionage Act, and the relevant section is called "theft of trade secrets." (18 USC 1832)

So, you can either go informal, in which case "theft" is a reasonable, common word for taking someone else's stuff without their permission. Or you can go legalistic, in which case, the charge being applied to him is called "theft" as a matter of statutory law.

Either way, checkmate.

about a month ago
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Research Suggests Pulling All-Nighters Can Cause Permanent Damage

Valdrax Re:Well that's lovely (144 comments)

At which point does one simply write off sleep for the night if solely because getting a small amount feels worse than no sleep at all?

At my age? Never. ANY sleep is better than no sleep. Otherwise you spend the day microsleeping and only waking when your head dips.

about a month ago
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It Was the Worst Industrial Disaster In US History, and We Learned Nothing

Valdrax Re:71 years, Hanford is still a radiactive cesspoo (290 comments)

Perhaps Church Rock would be a better example? Shame they didn't do hardly any follow up studies on the effects on the people, being poor native Americans why bother.

That was more of a mining disaster than a nuclear power disaster and would have had similar cleanup issues if the heavy metal contamination was non-radioactive.

Mining disasters are frequently rife with issues of irresponsibility and expenses dumped on taxpayers, poor government oversight due to local corruption, and issues of environmental justice (i.e. the fact that polluting industries tend to seek out poor communities to avoid NIMBYism and to get locals to look the other way when a "job creator" is coming to town). The potential issues of racism and state & federal governments taking any opportunity to shaft Native Americans are just a cherry on top in this case -- but largely irrelevant to the question of the safety of nuclear power.

While he whitewashes the morality of the issue, Jared Diamond's "Collapse" has a pretty good introduction to all the horrors the mining industry creates and why.

about a month ago
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It Was the Worst Industrial Disaster In US History, and We Learned Nothing

Valdrax Re:71 years, Hanford is still a radiactive cesspoo (290 comments)

The DOE's cleanup job is a joke here. I refuse to support any new nuclear power plant in the U.S. until it can be proven that the mess that results can be cleaned up.

Now, that's a bit too far. Hanford was contaminated long before we had any good understanding of how to properly contain radioactive waste, had any solid idea of what kind of harm it could do, and had any kind of national environmental regulation that established standards for proper handling. Oh, and it was a military site which meant that it would have likely been handled incredibly irresponsibly due to the lack of accountability that secrecy provides them.

You should consider whether or not in the current framework with a civilian project forced to obey modern standards whether or not such a mess is likely to occur again and whether it's likely to occur in a manner that creates such a nightmare in the first place. It may still be reasonable to conclude, "No," but you really should hold up Hanford as the measuring stick for what can be done over 50 years (and an entire environmental movement) later.

about a month ago
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It Was the Worst Industrial Disaster In US History, and We Learned Nothing

Valdrax Re:Deepwater Horizon non sequitur (290 comments)

There's 100,000 pounds of this KILLER element released! Yes, but it's spread out evenly though 10 million tons of slurry over 100 square miles. You could probably strip-mine the top 5 feet of the same area in a city and find higher concentrations.

Yes, but the difference is that isn't not all in a highly soluble form with a high surface area. This is why mine tailings are such a huge source of acid and metal contamination. What would take millions of years to expose to streams and waters via natural erosion is ground up and dumped straight into waterways by industry. The resulting contamination is much higher than you would find by running water over the top of the material before processing.

about a month ago
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Pluto Regains Its Title As Largest Object In Its Neighborhood

Valdrax Re:Ah, the Planet Pluto (138 comments)

Anything that orbits the Sun directly in a fairly circular orbit is a planet. Why shouldn't Ceres be one?

Do comets count? How "off" of an orbit do you have to be not to count (and yet for Pluto to count).

Where's the big deal?

Where's the big deal in Pluto not being a planet?

about a month ago
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Prominent GitHub Engineer Julie Ann Horvath Quits Citing Harrassment

Valdrax Does no one remember being a nerd? (710 comments)

I wonder how many men, if going away with perceptions like these, would be ready to ascribe it to some "them vs. me" issue. I mean, one can't conclude on basis of statements like these that some sort of improper discrimination wasn't going on, but neither can one conclude that it was.

Not many, for much the same reasons that polls show that white consider us to be living in a post-racial worlds while nearly everyone else in America disagrees strongly.

You don't generally notice discrimination if you're not the one being discriminated against, since most of it will happen out of your sight. You may have some awareness that "some people" still act that way, but it will seem remote to you and likely overblown.

Does no one remember what it was like to be a geek or nerd in high school? Sometimes people act against you with open, gleeful hostility, but most of the time, it's just a subtle undercurrent of preconceived notions and dismissive attitudes. Guess what? It doesn't really go away when we get older. It just happens to different people.

about a month ago
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Pluto Regains Its Title As Largest Object In Its Neighborhood

Valdrax Re:Ah, the Planet Pluto (138 comments)

The whole "We changed our mind and decided that Pluto isn't a planet" is bullshit. Just say that Pluto and Eris are both planets and be done with it.

Define "planet" in a meaningful, non-arbitrary way that does not include dozens of other bodies not traditionally recognized as planets in our solar system (e.g. Ceres). It's believed the Kuiper belt has hundreds of dwarf planets. You want to promote them all just to not have to give up a mnemonic from childhood?

about a month ago
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Silicon Valley Billionaire Takes Out $201 Million Life Insurance Policy

Valdrax Re:Consumption taxes favor the rich. (300 comments)

that is why you don't tax "necessary" consumption, like purchase of food, payment of rent payment of electricity, water ... (0% tax)
and you do tax all luxury items like food in "high" category like Caviar, Champagne, expensive vines, expensive cars, expensive houses/villas, hotel bills, private planes yachts ...

Woah, woah, woah. How do you determine what is and isn't a luxury item within the same category?

Let's take food, for example. So caviar is taxable, but what else is? Fatty tuna? Well, it's pretty expensive, but where do you draw the line between taxable tuna and not taxable tuna? Is there a tuna chart or fat percentage? You mention expensive wines, but where is the line on what's "expensive?" $100 bottles? $50 bottles? $20 bottles? Anything that doesn't come in a box or a 4-pack? Is organic food a luxury? Is meat? Do you tax steak at a Longhorn's different from Waffle House? Hell, are all restaurants luxuries or not, since people can just cook at home?

From the sound of things, you are creating a tax code far more detailed, controlling, and onerous than our existing income tax code. Furthermore, will its dividing lines move with inflation? How do you set up POS check-out terminals to handle this? What about private sellers (e.g. garage sales & eBay)? Etc. etc.

you can make as much for society as you want tax free, but as soon as you start spending resources you start loosing money

Compounding interest, my friend. Those who can afford to save will see their money grow, and even if they get taxed the same later, they still had a chance to grow in wealth far faster than someone who had to spend it all on necessities.

about a month ago
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Silicon Valley Billionaire Takes Out $201 Million Life Insurance Policy

Valdrax Who cares about you? You're dead at that point. (300 comments)

Why shouldn't I be able to choose exactly what I decide to give my kids? Seems pretty presumptuous on your part that you know how to distribute my money upon my death than I do.

Because you're dead. You don't really matter anymore. What does matter is whether your kids should be given a windfall of wealth and power without having to do anything to earn it. You may have worked quite hard for your money and thus deserved the benefits of it. But they don't. Unless you taught them how to earn it on their own, at which point they don't really need it.

That said, I only support a high estate tax on wealth over a certain (high) amount. The estate tax should be an anti-aristocracy measure and not something that applies to even the professional class (e.g. doctors, lawyers, etc.) who still have to work hard for their money. It's good to be able to give the family home to your kids. It's not good to be able to ensure they never have to work a day to enjoy all the privileges of wealth.

about a month ago
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Silicon Valley Billionaire Takes Out $201 Million Life Insurance Policy

Valdrax Consumption taxes favor the rich. (300 comments)

I think YOU are seeing the wrong side of it. Why is taxing income the best way to tax people? Income is wealth generation, we shouldn't tax it. Taxing consumption would be much better.

Taxing consumption disproportionately hits the lower and middle classes, who consume a greater percentage of their income than do the upper classes. It puts the burden of shouldering the government on those least able to afford it. In that manner it would act as a strong barrier to income mobility by preserving wealth for the wealthy and taking it most from the least wealthy.

about a month ago

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