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Miss a Payment? Your Car Stops Running

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:These people are doing it to themselves (907 comments)

2. It's quaint that you think there is universal ambulance service in the United States. There isn't.

Since the person in question lived in Las Vegas, not Smalltown USA, I think it's pretty reasonable to assume that an ambulance was a viable option in terms of availability. Since she had to get a predatory loan to get a car, it's also reasonable to assume that she has money problems and either didn't have insurance that would cover the cost of using it or covered very little of that cost. Saying she didn't want to pay the cost of an ambulance, and for those who don't know, this can easily be $1000 in the USA, is really a different argument than suggesting that she had no other choice because ambulance service didn't exist where she lived.

about three weeks ago
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To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:Solution (410 comments)

Tax evasions are possible with the so called "Fair Tax" or "Sales Tax" as you call it. Rich people may find it much cheaper to buy expensive items overseas or in Canada or Mexico and ship them to the USA. That's not something that the average person can afford to do. It may also cause a black market to form where people can buy things on the sly, like electronics, where they pay cash and the sales aren't reported. I have no doubt at all that the rich people in the USA have already thought of ways to avoid this kind of sales tax that we've never considered. I've also read that in such a system businesses may pay less than individuals and in such cases the rich may simply shunt their purchases through businesses, perhaps created only to serve as a front for saving taxes on purchases. Dream on, but your idea won't work.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Learning after 30 (234 comments)

In a vague way, one of my hobbies is learning foreign languages. I really don't want to oversell that, but I studied 2 languages after turning 30 and while I wouldn't say I'm fluent in either (I could eventually be with a lot more practice and a real reason to use them though) this goes along with another language I studied in college and am close to fluent in. Additionally I know enough to get by of a 4th language, particularly when reading. What I found is that I could still learn another language after 30, I just had to work somewhat harder at it than when I was younger, but it was still doable. So if you are really interested in learning astronomy and physics after age 30, I think you can. The key thing is not to give up. I know of a lot of language learning failures in older (30 and above) students because they just gave up, not really because they weren't capable of learning it. It definitely gets easier to find excuses for not studying when you get older and while I did have to study a little bit more after age 30, it wasn't like three times as much or even twice as much, but it did require somewhat more work.

about a month ago
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Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve This is robusta coffee they're talking about (167 comments)

I was not familiar with the name coffea canephora so I looked it up. This is what I have heard in the past called coffea robusta. Maybe the name got changed to disguise what it is. A lot of people know what robusta coffee is. For those who don't know, robusta is considered an inferior species of coffee. Ever heard of coffees that say that they are 100% arabica? This is because just about everybody considers arabica to be superior to robusta. Robusta is used in blends because it is is very bitter. Robusta is more disease resistant and has higher crop yields than arabica, but I've never heard of it being used in concentrations of more than maybe 1o to 15% in blends. Usually the amount used is less than 10%. This is great, I guess, and I suppose if there were 100% robusta blends some crazy people would love it. Currently in the USA there's a big interest in making craft beers as bitter as possible. Those kind of people, who are in the minority, would probably love large robusta blends. But until they sequence and maybe talk about doing things to protect arabica from disease, this is mildly interesting and no more.

about a month and a half ago
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In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Not necessarily (441 comments)

Wow. Talk about a lawsuit that you are *guaranteed* to win.

This guy is going to make millions.

My best friend is an attorney and we've known each other for years. He has taught me a lot about how the law really works in the USA (I live in the US too by the way). Literally anything can happen in court. You may be right in that the odds may be good that he'll be able to sue and win, but it all depends on factors we can't control or predict. The judge the case gets is important. If it's a jury trial, the outcome may have more to do with the abilities of the lawyers involved than the actual merits of the case. Then if you don't like the verdict and appeal it, you go back to square one because some appellate judges tend to favor one side over the other. You get a really conservative appellate male judge in the Scalia mold and you could find that he'll basically allow the government to do anything if they feel that public safety was potentially at risk. Keep in mind too that the author may be greatly exaggerating what happened to him and what really happened may be a lot less sensational than the news report.

about a month and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Repeated Internet Overbilling?

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:What to do? (355 comments)

A less drastic, but equally annoying solution might be to just turn it off for a month. See what they bill you then.

"It was turned off" is a lot more likely to persuade a small claims court to your side than "I was overcharged by 14%, and here are the dozen esoteric ways I can prove it".

How do you as a consumer prove conclusively it was turned off when AT&T will say "Nuh uh. He was using it the whole time!". Then it just gets into "He said/She said" territory and I can assure you that judges hate that kind of stuff. Plus, we had another poster make the good point that even if you try to go after AT&T, they'll use their army of highly paid lawyers to argue "Change of venue" or try to show how your contract allows them to get summary dismissal. A lot of companies now have clauses that state that you agree to arbitration, which means you can't go to small claims court against them. And they can ask for the arbitration in a location as far away from you as possible so unless you're insane and willing to spend thousands of dollars to maybe win a few hundred back, it's just not worth it. I am having a hard time understanding how this is a constant problem for the original poster though unless he's trying to run a business via what is supposed to be a residential connection or he's the king of torrents. I've had AT&T for years and I've never exceeded my limits even once. Going to Uverse, as suggested in another post, is also a good idea as AT&T is known to deliberately degrade their DSL service anyway. Uverse is so much better than the old DSL service they had, I really don't think it's rational to stay with DSL if you can possibly get Uverse where you live.

about 2 months ago
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Early Bitcoin User Interviewed By Federal Officers

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve The Butler case (92 comments)

The Butler case is not exactly what you claim. First of all, the scientist in question called in the FBI in a panic because he couldn't account for 30 missing vials of plague vaccine and assumed they were stolen. The FBI found no evidence of a break in and then Butler officially signed a document stating that he was in error and he destroyed the vials himself and he claimed they were missing to cover it up. That got him arrested. Then he said that he doesn't know what happened, whether he destroyed the vials or not. He claims that the FBI pressured him into signing the document admitting he destroyed them and he was probably led to believe that if he signed it they would close the case when it fact it was used against him as "proof" that he caused an FBI investigation for nothing. Let's not kid ourselves here - this is not at all a case as you suggest where the FBI came fishing out of nowhere. Had Butler not contacted them to begin with in a panic, they would not have bothered him at all. He was probably tricked into "confessing" and not told he'd be prosecuted for doing so and that's a valid complaint against the FBI, but they certainly didn't come to him out of the blue and invent a reason for going after him.

about 2 months ago
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Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:Why do they want us to see it anyway? (300 comments)

That's what puzzles me to no end. Why would they want to show us how they behead someone?

To make use hate them? Our media accomplish that easily already, but thanks for the aid. To make us fear them? Why should I fear a bunch of religious lunatics somewhere off in lalaland? Hell, I'm more afraid of the religious loonies in the Bible belt! To show us they can do it? Any idiot can kill someone who can't defend himself, no big deal about that.

So, what should that accomplish? I'm sitting here, puzzled, shrugging my shoulders with a "meh".

Thanks for providing the always obligatory "Christians are much worse than this" post. Yes, for sure they are because the fact that they actually believe in God is oh so terrible to you personally. And don't forget to mention all those family members of yours that church down the street killed in a blood ritual.

What people like you don't get is the following.
1) Some people will always be religious. This crazy idea that one day all religions will go away is never going to happen.
2) When Christianity shrinks, you know what religion is uniquely positioned to grab the people in category #1? That's right - radical Islam. Why? It's messages of "All of your problems are being caused by non-believers" and "You can get a huge reward in the afterlife by doing a whole lot of killing here now" resonate with poor people who have no hope of improvement.

You fail to grasp that if radical Islam does one day show up at your door then they're going to do a lot worse to you as a non-believer than knocking on your door and asking to leave a pamphlet.

about 2 months ago
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Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:That's why slashdot is against tech immigration (441 comments)

Then your company is breaking the law and you should report them. Companies are required to pay above the prevailing wage for the position and region. We paid both of our H1B workers well above average for our staff and when they worked out sponsored their green cards (and boy is that process a cluster!), we're the kind of employer that the program was actually designed for, we were looking for extremely rare talent sets and had advertised the positions for months before looking abroad. I have to say that I have much bigger problems with the screwups in the green card program than I do with the H1B system, permanently bringing smart people from abroad raises the GDP of the US and brings diversity to the country.

It's actually possible to both "pay above the prevailing wage for the position and region" and seriously underpay H1B workers at the same time. All you have to do is define the job in the right way to drive down the "prevailing wage" for it and then hire someone into the job but have their duties be different. Congratulations on being the exception to the rule. My employer, who I deliberately refuse to name, is actually pretty good, but we hire a lot more H1B workers than Americans for certain jobs and it's not logical to conclude that they are "better" than Americans. Cheaper? Yes. I also briefly dated an H1B worker at another company. I'm pretty sure she makes $20,000 to $30,000 less than an American would at her job, but her company is really small so they somehow get away with it, maybe by defining her job differently than what her actual duties are.

about 2 months ago
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Professor Steve Ballmer Will Teach At Two Universities This Year

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:Step #1 Find a Geek (179 comments)

Corrections from above.

Step #2, follow him into success.

Step #3, take over the company when he steps down.

Step #4, fail repeatedly throughout a decade.

Step #5, somehow get company to pay you over $20 billion for step #4.

Step #6, teach MBA class at Stanford and USC.

about a month ago
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Calif. Court Rules Businesses Must Reimburse Cell Phone Bills

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:Salesmen (161 comments)

I work for a Fortune 500 company. Our policy is that staff who need to be reachable/available outside of normal business hours have a company provided mobile phone where the bill goes straight to the company. If we purchase that phone with our own money and don't get reimbursed for the purchase cost, then the phone is ours to keep even if we leave the company. Our company does support the use of iPhones (I have one) and it has some kind of special software on it that they claim allows remote wiping. Our tech support people claim that if you leave, your phone gets wiped, but you can restore your non-work related stuff from a backup. I've been told that supposedly this wipes your company email and I think that's all it really does once you restore from a backup. I have limited contact with a few former employees and while I never specifically asked if they had any problems after the wipe job, nobody has explicitly mentioned it either. I do have a few co-workers who have a company phone and their own phone, but I don't really understand the reasoning for it except they just like to do it that way. I have the impression that my company doesn't care at all about the contacts in your phone but they definitely want to stop you from reading work email or connecting to the work networks via your phone once you leave. That reference to having the ability to turn off the business phone is quaint. I don't know of anybody in IT who can actually do that. While we rotate on call where I work through a decent number of employees so that we are on call for a week at a time about once every 2 months, even when not on call we need to be reachable in case of a work emergency.

about 2 months ago
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China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:fear (152 comments)

Another Tienanmen Square would be a complete disaster with severe repercussions for the government.

I agree with you, but I think such a happening is highly unlikely, despite the fact that there are many Chinese citizens who aren't really happy with their government. Here's the reason. Did you know that the Chinese constitution has the PLA swearing to protect the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)? Think about that. Their job is to protect the CCP, not the nation or the citizens but the CCP. What this means, in my opinion as an outside observer (I have never lived in China, but I have visited there several times), is that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is composed of highly brainwashed individuals from the privates all the way up to the top generals who are pledged to save the CCP above all else. I'm a little concerned that the CCP may be losing control of the PLA. Right now they are in control, but I think that they just barely control it. All these decades of brainwashing have caused the entire military to be hair trigger that they are constantly under siege from outside forces, usually the USA, who want to beat the crap out of China and possibly destroy it militarily. It's not difficult for me to foresee a time in the future when the CCP finds it can't control the PLA. I wouldn't even rule out a military coup. But anyway, if there was another major Tienanmen Square protest, the CCP would simply have to tell the PLA to put it down and the PLA would happily kill as many protesters as they could.

about 2 months ago
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Why Chinese Hackers Would Want US Hospital Patient Data

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Where did you go to school? (171 comments)

I'm serious. Where did you go to school? Because I want to make sure that absolutely nobody I know goes there. Wow. If your plan was to take the daily prize for grammatical errors, missing words, lack of sense, and so on, well, congratulations as we have a winner.

You're (you might notice that I spelled that correctly) the only person I know of to ever mention individual state laws as a health care problem. A law can simply be passed making health care a federal matter to deal with that. And tuition to medical schools has always been high. This is not a recent occurrence. Outside of Los Angeles there just aren't all that many plastic surgery doctors so that's not really a problem either. However, this a shortage of general practitioners among younger doctors and that is because it doesn't pay as well as specialty medicine does, but doctors are going into all the specialist fields. There's no explosion of cosmetic doctors. And the system can only support so many specialists. Every medical school candidate simply can't go into the same specialty because there aren't enough training opportunities.

about 2 months ago
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Nuclear Regulator Hacked 3 Times In 3 Years

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:Skydrive? (66 comments)

Why on earth would the NRC (or any company or government entity, for that matter) not block access to all cloud storage providers, except those which are explicitly authorized?

My first job after college was working for a branch of the Department of Defense as a civilian. I was a programmer at first and then a Unix system admin. You may not know how tight Microsoft is with Uncle Sam so it could be that SkyDrive was or even still is deliberately allowed. I could certainly see Microsoft telling some big shot manager "This can only be a good thing you for you" and they signed off on it. My experience was that security was highly variable and depended on how serious the people responsible for the systems were. It could just be an oversight or they may be operating under the bad "Permit anything not explicitly denied" policy. Both government employees and contractors have wildly varying skill sets and some people in both groups are barely qualified for the jobs they hold. Those people don't do security very well because they don't know enough to consider situations like this.

about 2 months ago
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Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:Unconstitutinal (376 comments)

I don't know how it works in other countries, but here in the USofA, there's a little thing known as "the presumption of innocence," meaning that the accused is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. This does the exact opposite by assuming that anybody who's accused must be guilty and penalizing them without allowing them to present a defense. No judge would ever be stupid enough to rule in favor of Rightscorp, making the idea DOA at best, even if they don't get sued into bankruptcy the first time they try to enforce it.

You really do not understand how the US legal system works. I'm not an attorney, but my best friend is. He has taught me a lot about how the legal system really works here. I can assure you that it is indeed quite possible to find a judge who would rule in favor of Rightscorp. Anything can happen in a US court - anything. I know of a case involving a business dispute in my city where an appellate court ruled that the court that decided the case made up the law out of thin air. Think about that - a court was found to have made up the law they ruled on. My friend told me he had never heard of that happening before. The Naxos vs. Capitol case,which had devastating results for those of us who hoped that copyrights might actually expire one day, in my opinion also resulted in a ruling where the court that heard the case made up the law they ruled on out of nothing. If the US Supreme Court was to get some kind of hypothetical case where the law technically was very clear and required a certain ruling but actually giving that ruling would destroy the United States, plunge it into civil war and directly lead to the deaths of tens of millions of people, at least 4 members of the current court would shrug their shoulders and give that ruling, acting powerless to do anything else. There were all kinds of crazy decisions made by courts allowing mass mailings of infringement notices some years ago and that was probably as big a violation of due process as is even possible, yet it took years before judges in general began to oppose the practice. And this isn't even getting into the practice of having juries decide complex patent cases. All I can tell you is that if you haven't served on a jury, you really cannot even comprehend how stupid and technically challenged many if not most jury members are.

about 2 months ago
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Posting Soccer Goals On Vine Is Illegal, Say England's Premier League

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:Laws vary by country. (226 comments)

So what may be illegal in England is not necessary illegal in the United States.

In the United States, you are definitely allowed to show a short clip of the the guy starting at the kick and ending at the goal.

Not exactly. It should be legal in the USA if the clip is really short, but there are no guarantees. Neither lawmakers nor courts have ever explicitly defined what "Fair Use" means, so if someone says "it's Fair Use" and a copyright holder disagrees, it takes a court case to rule on who is right. And as I always say, if you go to court in the USA, literally anything at all can happen. One court might rule that a 10 second clip is clearly Fair Use and another might rule that it's clearly a copyright violation. I know of a case in recent years where a local court got admonished by an appellate court for making up the law they used in their original ruling so literally anything can happen in US courts.

about 2 months ago
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Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:What are they complaining about? (341 comments)

In the US, Uber covers you for up to one million dollars. Erm, do you actually own a car? I guess not. My private, standard, insurance for my private car, with no intent to be used commercially is insured up to 10 million Euro (damage to persons). That is a very normal rate, I doubt you can even get a lower one.

My bet is that you'll probably have better coverage when you travel as a passenger/driver with Uber than if you were to drive yourself personally Certainly not. Damage to yourself is not covered by your car insurance. That is covered by your health and/or accident insurance or 'out of job insurance' in case you can no longer work.

My friend, things are very different in the USA. I have higher insurance coverage for damage to persons than the average American. I have this based on the advice of my best friend who is attorney. My coverage tops out at about $1 million US dollars and while I could get more, to achieve your levels would be cost prohibitive. Again, note that I said that my coverage is far above what a typical American has. Here you can indeed have damage to yourself covered by car insurance. Because of the messed up way that medical care works in the USA, we actually need this kind of coverage as our health insurance may require co-pays that could bankrupt someone who isn't rich if they got into a serious vehicular accident. In fact, prior to "Obamacare" (or the Affordable Care Act if you prefer) it was quite common for health insurance to have payment limits that could easily be reached in serious accidents. Automobile insurance makes medical payments all the time here.

about 2 months ago
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Snowden: NSA Working On Autonomous Cyberwarfare Bot

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Snowden's comments at odds with his actions (194 comments)

I find Snowden to be a typical pampered, ego-centric product of his generation. If he actually surrendered himself to US authorities unconditionally, I'd think he just might be insane. So I totally get why he is in Russia. I'm not saying I approve of what he did as I don't, but I get why he felt the need to hide under protection to do what he did. But he undermines his credibility with statements in the article like this:
I told the government I'd volunteer for prison, as long as it served the right purpose,” he says. “I care more about the country than what happens to me."
Yeah. Right.

about 2 months ago
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Larry Rosen: A Case Study In Understanding (and Enforcing) the GPL

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve You sir, are being absurd (191 comments)

From the parent post:
There is rich detail about this matter that will come out during litigation. Please don't criticize until you understand all the facts.

When has knowing the facts ever stopped Slashdotters from criticizing? Sounds like somebody doesn't understand how things work around here.

about 2 months ago
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Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve Re:Where do I sign up? (327 comments)

Wishful thinking. Federal employees are practically unfirable. For one, they are — bizarrely — unionized (to protect them from their employer — us), but that's only part of the reason, for corporations with unionized workforce still do fire bad workers, even if it is harder for them to do so than it ought to be.

This is just simply not correct. I know. I worked for Uncle Sam for a while. While it is difficult to fire federal workers, it's not impossible. Firing for cause can happen, although the more time a person has working there, the harder it becomes. And spare me the "they're in unions" argument. Unions do exist for federal employees, but at least where I worked in the Department of Defense, unions are a waste of money for most people. By federal law federal employees cannot strike (see Ronald Reagan vs. the air traffic controllers) so the union can't really do a lot in terms of collective bargaining. The only benefit I knew of that the union offered where I worked was that they had a supplemental insurance plan you could get through them that would pick up the consumer responsible charges of medical insurance and if you had a very expensive need, like major surgery, with such insurance you could get out of it paying nothing. I know of a case where a unionized worker was going to be fired for just cause. I don't remember what the guy did, but it was really bad and there was no doubt that he was guilty. The union called for hearings and drug their feet where it took a year to fire him but in the end the guy was fired. So other than giving you supplemental insurance or delaying a firing, that's about all a union could do where I worked. The majority of our workforce was not part of any union.

about 2 months ago

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