top Oregon Signs Up Just 44 People For Obamacare Despite Spending $300 Million
So here are some data points we start with:
1. The ACA is a neoliberal kludge designed to give more people healthcare without getting rid of the for-profit insurance industry.
2. The federal government hired private companies to make the federal website (to the degree that Congress would fund it). 3. Oregon hired Oracle to make their state website. 4. The state and federal websites both suck. 5. Lots more people are signing up for Medicaid than for private insurance through the exchanges, because it's free and easier.
Now, as a liberal I look at these data points and extrapolate, "Hmm, sounds like private industry isn't automagically more efficient at everything. Heck, I bet if we just extended Medicare to everyone we wouldn't be in this mess to begin with! We could skip the whole part where we let private companies take 15% of our insurance dollars even though the federal programs manage with like 6% overhead! Seems like basically every other industrialized nation in the world has the right idea!" But I guess if you stick enough ellipses in those bullet points, you're left with "ACA... website... suck." Which proves that government is the problem and we should let the invisible hand rule, or something.
top Proposed NJ Law Allows Cops To Search Phones At Crash Scenes
This is probably the most specious argument I've heard at least since last time I read Slashdot.
Why do police get guns even when civilians don't? Because they represent the government and therefore have a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly_on_violence) That means that police and the military are the only people we allow to use physical force on others, because they represent our elected government and therefore (ideally) the common good. The only other real options are Blade Runner (corporations and other non-governmental groups also have "legitimate" use of force) or Mad Max (simple anarchy).
Does this mean that handguns should be illegal? Not at all. I'm moderately pro-gun myself. But pretending that the police have no more right to use force than anyone else ("at least as large a threat as civilians") is undercutting even the possibility of contemporary society.
(I agree with everyone else that this cell phone law is idiotic, unhelpful and unconstitutional, by the way.)
top Mice, Newts Retrieved After a Month Orbiting Earth At 345 Miles Up
Another victory for the Cardassian Empire!
about a year and a half ago
top Will Renewable Energy Ever Meet All Our Energy Needs?
...if I knew it would cause this energy crisis!
So the point of the article is that it'd be very hard to scale up current renewable technologies (including nuclear) to cover all our energy needs, because of limited supplies of rare metals, etc. A fair enough point.
But then it dips into the more philosophical argument that if we keep expending 2.3% more energy every year we'll eventually run out of sunlight. But assuming a constant geometric increase in energy expenditures seems ridiculous. Especially when coupled with the concluding paragraph's assertion that the best solution is to eat less meat and drive less. Problem solved!
Here's the thing: human behavior is determined by economic realities. I live half an hour from work instead of within biking distance because houses are unaffordable in the downtown area - so I drive to work. I (probably) drink orange juice flown across the country from Florida instead of from here in California because global capitalism (and the incentives corporations have coerced from our government) make it "cheaper" to ship over some pre-pulped Florida's Best than to set up a factory here. If I can't afford to pay $80 for a shirt, I'll have to buy a new one in a few months because it's "cheaper" to have kids sew it together in Indonesia out of crappy materials and sell it at the Gap than it is for someone to make it here, out of quality materials by adult workers making at least minimum wage. So I get trapped in a cycle of wasting tons of crappy worn clothes and the fuel it takes to ship around the materials for NEW crappy clothes to replace them.
The "good" news: since we're at or near Peak Oil, the stuff's only going to get more expensive, so it'll gradually become less economically feasible to ship oranges across the country, or figs from Peru, or whatever. And at some point it'll be worth the cash for me to move closer to my work (or ride the smelly dangerous unreliable bus) rather than pay $20 a gallon to commute. And they won't save enough money underpaying Indonesian children to make it worth shipping fabric back and forth across the globe.
So overall, we're GOING to expend less non-renewable energy eventually, but we're all such short-sighted assholes it probably won't be until oil scarcity forces us to. So building renewables isn't just an eco-hippie priority; it's also about not screwing ourselves over in a decade or two when the Chinese are running on 50% solar (or whatever) and we're stuck paying through the nose to keep our gas cars and coal-burning power plants running.
If we want to help the environment in the meantime, why the heck wouldn't we invest in renewables AND in consumption-reducing infrastructure? Change around the Farm Bill and international trade agreements and all the other laws that corporations have paid for to make it easier for them to profit on the backs of poor people in other countries while making us fatter and more wasteful. (People eat more meat than they used to because it didn't USED to be cheaper to buy a double cheeseburger than fish or a head of lettuce.) Build some damn train tracks and buy some new buses so public transit is actually a viable option outside of Manhattan. And yes, stop building coal and oil power plants, if for no other reason than because they'll cost more than they're worth long before they're due to be retired. Give more tax credits for solar panels and insulation and double-pane windows. Tell people to properly inflate their tires.
But don't pretend that simply NOT building more power plants is a viable option. What does that do, exactly? Jacks up the price of electricity and gas, which the corporations and farms that use most of that electricity and gas will pay for with another tax writeoff, and which will further screw the growing lower class in the First World by making us pay an even higher portion of our income to keep our houses heated and our lights on.
about a year and a half ago
top 61.9% of Undergraduates Cybercheat
>>If it wasn't 99% memorization no one would cheat
Actually, I think you may be completely factually wrong here.
Nobody "cybercheats" on rote memorization tests (listing the state capitals or whatever) because the only time those things are tested are in closely monitored classroom situations. No teacher is going to give out a closed-book take-home exam.
The kinds of assignments that people actually use the internet to cheat on are *intended* to test the "application of information."
The problem here is that the internet is FULL of analysis and applied information on a huge variety of subjects, so it's easy for students to pawn off someone else's analysis as their own.
The further problem is that teachers are expected to have the ability to apply some kind of retarded Turing Test to determine whether the paper they're reading is the mediocre ramblings a freshman typed up at 2am before the assignment was due, or the mediocre ramblings said freshman copied from the internet. And if teachers fall short in that psychic capacity, it's taken by you as evidence that they're only teaching rote memorization.
top Court Upholds Blizzard's Anti-Bot DMCA Claim, Denies Copyright Infringement
It would not be as difficult as they claim. If someone gets found using Glide, delete their account, ban their credit card from subscribing, don't let them use that email address to register for a new account.
The problem is that a great deal of the people using Glide are gold farmers using stolen accounts and/or accounts opened with stolen credit card numbers. So while Blizzard can and does ban accounts caught botting, all that really does is provide farmers more incentive to come up with creative trojans and scams to hack people's accounts.
Not defending Blizzard's legal tactics here, but this is the issue they're dealing with.
top White House Fingers PlayStation As Obesity Culprit
I get a little furious every time I hear from Michelle Obama about childhood obesity, given that her husband is in charge of a government that gives billions of dollars in subsidies to corn farmers so that they can produce more high-fructose corn syrup to ensure that Twinkies remain cheaper than carrots.
Want to end childhood obesity? Fix farm subsidies so that healthy foods like fruits and vegetables become more affordable. But I guess that's a political impossibility, like 95% of the other change our government desperately needs.
top White House Fingers PlayStation As Obesity Culprit
>>you could lose weight eating only bacon, cholesterol notwithstanding
And you could program Call of Duty in QuickBASIC, performance notwithstanding.
top Google Releases Chrome 5.0 For Win/Mac/Linux
Yeah, and I can't stand those new-fangled radios that just say something like "99.5 FM" for the frequency. I mean, are we talking kilohertz here? megahertz? Who's to say?
top Flash Is Not a Right
Dude, I haven't updated my Nokia status in AGES...
top New Interactive Black Hole Simulation Published
#To avoid slashdotting, I've transcoded this simulation into a Web 2.0 application. Try it out now!
<html> <body bgcolor=0> </body> </html>
top Why Apple Doesn't Market Squarely To Businesses
Apple wants to lock down your software and hardware every which way.
Businesses can't operate in such an environment.
Ahh, so THAT'S why no major corporations use Flash on their websites or Microsoft Office documents internally.
top FCC's Net Neutrality Plan Blocks BitTorrent
I'm guessing this is less an unintentional "loophole" than a very intentional concession to the lobbyists who are writing this bill.
The only reason Congress cares about "Net Neutrality" is that some big tech companies like Google are lobbying hard for it, while big service providers like Comcast are lobbying against it. But since neither group actually cares about your right to use BitTorrent, the RIAA lobbyists are free to stick in some extra restrictions like this.
I'm ever so glad the Supreme Court thinks these corporate groups should have even MORE influence over our elections.
top Why Firefox's Future Lies In Google's Hands
>>Not knowing much about this history of web browsers, coupled with a near-religious fanaticism for Firefox, leads to absolutely fucking stupid comments like we see in the summary.
Well, maybe they know just enough history to remember back to 2005 when Opera was neither free-as-in-Braveheart nor free-as-in-beer, and Firefox was both.
top Firefox Mobile Threatens Mobile App Stores, Says Mozilla
I'd say this comment misses the point of phone apps pretty terribly. At least the ones I use tend to rely almost entirely on the phone's hardware features. Not just accelerated graphics and GPS and camera, but tie-ins to the address book and calendar, etc.
top Not Enough Women In Computing, Or Too Many Men?
>>Odd we don't see many stories about the global shortage in female garbage collectors. Or janitors... Women aren't in computers because they tend not to be interested in it.
Is the implication that men love being janitors and garbage collectors?
top The Cloud Ate My Homework
>If there's money to be made, the big players will each have a Cloud. They'll each support some set of software; why would you assume that it would all be the same, or even interoperable?
For the same reason I can plug any brand battery into my remote control or use any brand light bulb in my chandelier: because interoperability is a core selling point for these products. The very first essential question I'm going to ask when choosing a "cloud" is this: will it work with my existing documents and those my peers use?
top GIMP Dropped From Ubuntu 10.04
So I've used various drawing programs for years to make crappy little graphical schematics to post online. MS Paint is all I really need, although I've used Photoshop and similar programs as well.
I heard a lot about how powerful GIMP was, and my Mac didn't come with even a basic drawing tool, so I downloaded it. Lasted... oh, maybe 2 minutes.
The issue came when I wanted to draw a line. Now, every other graphics program I've used has a "line" tool, somewhere in plain sight. Observe:
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Using-Paint http://www.extropia.com/tutorials/photoshop/line_tool.html ...and so on. Such was not the case for GIMP. In GIMP, you use the Shift key with other tools to draw lines. Not an inherently bad way of doing things, I guess. But here's how you have to find out about it: http://www.gimp.org/tutorials/Straight_Line/ (That's from the official GIMP site, mind you.)
Hey, GIMP guys. Screw you and your sarcastic screenshot telling me what the "Shift" button is. Your interface is the WEIRD one. People who use MS Paint or Photoshop or friggin' ClarisWorks - your potential customers - expect "line" to be a tool, not a key. And it's not like the key is entitled "Shift Or Draw Straight Lines In Some Linux Programs." It is NON-OBVIOUS that this would be the manner you draw lines. I don't care that I had to look up how to use a new interface, but don't act like I'm supposed to psychically fucking know ahead of time how your arbitrary interface works.
Note how both MS Paint and Photoshop are way MORE straightforward in this operation, and yet avoid sarcasm in their tutorials.
top Cable Exec Suggests Changing Consumer Behavior, Not Business Model
>>hell, if copyright existed, we wouldn't have had Shakespeare's [works].
Actually, I always thought the reason that Shakespeare never published his own plays was precisely that there were no copyright protections, so the only way to keep other theater companies from stealing his work was to keep his scripts secret (until the First Folio came out posthumously).
If Shakespeare's England had had copyright protections, there's a good chance that we'd have a lot MORE Shakespeare plays - all the stuff that didn't make it into the First Folio.
top Save the Planet, Eat Your Dog
I would be intrigued to see some more evidence of this "frugal economic right" in U.S. politics. I mean, presumably we're not talking about the Republicans who actually get elected to office and then consistently create record-breaking deficits.
The fact of the matter is that industries like agriculture, energy, and automobiles are so neck-deep in government money already that what we're really talking about here is redirecting the flow of that cash. Take some agricultural subsidies away from factory farms and redirect towards more sustainable farming methods. Make the GM our government now owns 60% of develop Earth-friendly vehicles. Encourage development of wind, solar, and nuclear power rather than subsidizing oil and coal.