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Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question

ranton Re:Opinion On Basic Income (108 comments)

1) It was also the result of the government funding a massive push to educate the workforce in the post-secondary education system. If you look at 1910, which was an era where big business was running things, 2.7% of the population was college educated. By 1990 it was almost double that.

The notion that industrious people created the middle class is laughable. It was clearly a partnership between the public sector which educated the workforce and the private sector that took this new workforce and created a booming economy.

2) You seem to have some belief that the ruling class is different than the industrious people you keep mentioning. Politicians and business owners make up the ruling class.

3) Yes, government regulations clearly have their costs. There is no such thing as a system with no drawbacks. But any system without regulations is going to turn into an oligarchy in short order.

4) No, we trade liberty for comfort all the time, and it is a good thing. Absolute statements are almost always ridiculous. We trade some liberties to create functioning societies because those societies give us more benefits than the few liberties we gave up.

5) If you think work is not a burden you must never have done back breaking labor. Some work is most definitely a burden.

2 days ago
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US Intelligence Unit Launches $50k Speech Recognition Competition

ranton Re:Eh arent they trying? (62 comments)

All the speech recognition software I've used has relied on a controlled environment (e.g. yelling directly into your phone with almost no reverberation, no competing conversations, very little background noise).

...

Modelling all the other kinds of background noise is much, much harder.

I agree, but the issue is this problem is harder than those that industry leaders are putting billions of dollars of R&D money into. What is $50k really going to accomplish? There are Kaggle competitions that pay out more than that for far more trivial problems (like a marginal increase in CTR prediction).

2 days ago
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Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question

ranton Re:Opinion On Basic Income (108 comments)

1) A vibrant middle class is an aberration of history. I don't think we can look to history and find meaningful examples of what exponentially increasing technology will do to our current social structures.

2) Our society determines what basic income is. Just like we determine our laws.

3) Living in a society that respects property rights has its costs. Almost the only difference between the relatively peaceful western world and places like the unrest in the middle east is that the vast majority of our population has a lot of opportunities. You take those away and we will have the same unrest here.

I tend to agree with Thomas Paine, who believed that all citizens have a natural inheritance created by the introduction of the system of landed property. So in return for society recognizing property rights those property holders owe society some of its proceeds. He explicitly stated this should not be considered charity.

4) He never said he thought there would only be positive results. He did say he thinks it would be a good idea, but plenty of good ideas still have consequences. And he was openly asking for other opinions while merely offering his own; there is no need to jump down his throat.

5) No one is saying people would be paid not to work. All people would just be told "you don't have to work to meet your basic needs." Once that burden is removed, people would still be free to work to better their lives further. Very few people would just sit around all day doing nothing, and those that do really would be the ones we want removed from the workforce anyway.

4 days ago
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Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question

ranton Re:Opinion On Basic Income (108 comments)

... you should at least take into consideration the fact that automation has been increasing for over a century, as well as population, and yet unemployment has remained relatively constant

I am not necessarily worried about unemployment; I am worried about the increasing gap between the elite and everyone else. Early automation created the need for the middle class, as the wealthy needed trained people to run the machines. But in the past 40 years automation has become far more capable and sophisticated. It requires less people to run modern machines, but they need to be far more skilled than the last generation. This has lead to the shrinking middle class, the rising 1%, and also the rising upper middle class.

The trend of the middle class falling into the lower class, and a small minority of the middle class rising into the upper middle class is what automation is creating.

I envision a future (perhaps 20 years out) where there is a huge gap between a servant class and the elite. The elite will still be split between what is now considered the upper middle class and the 1%, but they will all have a much different lifestyle than the servant class. Today's lower class jobs will be replaced with a more personalized service industry, where your average knowledge worker can easily hire a maid for instance. I am barely in the top 5% of household incomes and even I can already have my house cleaned and yard cared for every other week for less than 3% of our monthly net income. In 20 years that will probably turn into paying someone to do my dishes and laundry for me.

A basic income will allow these individuals who cannot command a living wage to still live a good life. I would love for us to move to a system where minimum wage is abolished but everyone receives around $10k per year and all other income is supplementary. Just the reduction in crime alone may even make this less costly to the upper class than paying for our current prison / police infrastructure. And some of the extra taxes you are paying will come back to you in the form of maids who only cost $4/hr.

4 days ago
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Court Rules Google's Search Results Qualify As Free Speech

ranton Re:Nothing to do with freedom of speech of 1st ame (137 comments)

It was a lawsuit claiming Google broke a law.

Not it was not. No one claimed Google broke any law, and the government was not on either side of the case. This was a civil case, where someone thought Google was treating them unfairly.

Even though the government was not a plaintiff or defendant, it is still our laws that are being used to determine if the lawsuit wins. In this particular case it was anti-trust laws which were being examined.

4 days ago
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Sweden Considers Adding "Sexism" Ratings To Video Games

ranton Be a man (635 comments)

It would be disingenuous to suggest that sexism does not primarily impact women negatively.

Boys are certainly negatively impacted by macho ideals such as the importance of "being a man." Any claim that girls are negatively affected by big breasted meek women in video games must also concede that boys are negatively affected by buff macho men who can solve all problems by shooting or beating up their opponents. I think both claims are a bit over the top, but making one claim and not the other is quite hypocritical.

5 days ago
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Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks

ranton Re:Microsoft losing to the school what? (219 comments)

I've seen studies that have shown that they interfere with learning, but none (that weren't sponsored by someone trying to sell stuff) that showed they improved learning.

I'll help you since your workplace must be blocking Google. From what I was able to briefly find, the meta-analysis of current research shows three things:

1) Blended use of technology and traditional learning probably produces the best results.
2) We are still figuring out how to best use technology in the classroom, but we are improving.
3) There has not been nearly enough large scale research to "prove" any assertions about the effectiveness of individual techniques in bringing technology to the classroom.

Does the Use of Technology Improve Learning?
The Answer Lies in Design
Effective Use of Technology as a Learning Tool
Learning with Technology. Evidence that technology can, and does, support learning.
Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning. A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies
Using Technology in Education: Does It Improve Anything?

And depending on your definition of "sponsored by someone trying to sell stuff", you are probably unlikely to find many studies at all like that (a fact brought up by a couple of the above studies). Since most school districts cannot afford to spend money on unproven technologies, a large percentage of these studies have their devices donated or heavily subsidized by the device manufacturer. Here are some iPad specific ones, but even though some of them may have had iPads donated they still back up their research with actual test scores.

Five Studies to Prove the iPad’s Educational Worth
iPad improves Kindergartners literacy scores
Study Finds Benefits in Use of iPad as an Educational Tool
iPads Improve Classroom Learning, Study Finds
iPad a Solid Education Tool, Study Reports

about two weeks ago
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New Book Argues Automation Is Making Software Developers Less Capable

ranton Re:ah, but the analogy ... (212 comments)

Actually, now they are locked into a cycle of debt that precludes using an old tractor in favor of buying new ones before the old ones wear out. Those who run old tractors fix them themselves. Besides, there is often no time to hire a mechanic, when the tractor breaks it needs to be back in production ASAP. Your analogy sucks.

As someone who grew up on a farm in rural Illinois, I only knew one farmer (out of dozens) that knew how to fix most of his mechanical issues. Everyone knew how to fix simple things, just like developers can usually fix simple issues with their tools. But any issue which couldn't be fixed by your average person with some handyman and automotive skills needed to be sent to a mechanic. I mean do you really think farmers just have a fully stocked auto shop with replacement parts in their tool shed?

Although you are correct that there is often no time for a mechanic. But the answer usually was to get help from neighbors by borrowing their equipment. And the turnaround from the mechanics at planting / harvest time was usually only a day or two.

about two weeks ago
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New Book Argues Automation Is Making Software Developers Less Capable

ranton Re:That's true, but... (212 comments)

That is not really what TFA is talking about. Automation of farming has removed the labor, but not the knowledge. It has not caused farmers to forget how to farm.

Automation of farming removed the knowledge of how to farm without the automation. Like another post said, when a tractor breaks down the farmer doesn't grab a shovel. He calls his mechanic. My dad is a farmer who is 64 years old, and even he doesn't remember how to farm like his grandfather did.

about two weeks ago
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New Book Argues Automation Is Making Software Developers Less Capable

ranton Re:ah, but the analogy ... (212 comments)

So, when the tractor breaks, the farmer fixes the tractor.

Maybe when your grandpa was a farmer this was true, but today the farmer calls his mechanic. The proportion of farmers who can fix their own high tech equipment is likely not that different than the proportion of developers who can debug low level code.

about two weeks ago
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The Students Who Feel They Have the Right To Cheat

ranton Re:Be the Change You Wish to See in the World (438 comments)

You absolutely have the right to cheat, because in reality, that's what life outside of school all is about... non-independant work.

School is not a real world simulator. It is a place to learn. Regardless of whether I agree with you on the morality of cheating, your reasoning is way off.

about two weeks ago
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The Students Who Feel They Have the Right To Cheat

ranton Re:Be the Change You Wish to See in the World (438 comments)

If everyone else at the gym was cheating, would you? Why the fuck are you at college in the first place? If you aren't there to get an education, you're just going to be another one of the growing number of underemployed seatwarmers with a hollow degree. You'll betray yourself the moment you open your mouth in a job interview.

He never said he decided not to learn the material. He just made sure he wasn't at the bottom of the class when it comes time to graduate the honors, apply for grad school, or get his first job after university.

about two weeks ago
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The Students Who Feel They Have the Right To Cheat

ranton Re:Be the Change You Wish to See in the World (438 comments)

Not all examples of "playing the system" are as hypocritical as your doctor friend. Often playing the game more ethically instead of just by the rules can put you at severe disadvantages. In your anecdote the doctor is probably not at a disadvantage in his business if he didn't set up a backdoor Roth IRA, he probably would just have a $750k house instead of an $800k one. But not all situations are as clear cut.

I for instance hate how schools are funded in this country. Property taxes fund the schools, so schools in wealthy districts are much better than average. On top of this, zoning of housing ensures that only expensive houses are built in the wealthy districts, so very few lower middle class children / parents mix in with the wealthier ones. But while I hate this, I spent the extra money to live in arguably the best school district in my state (well, I didn't spend more money but I got a smaller home than I could have just 10 minutes away) I also actively oppose cheaper housing being built in my area because it could lower my home's value and lower the quality of my daughter's education. It may be slightly hypocritical, but I am going to do what is in my daughter's best interest.

These cheating school children have a similar dilemma. Rich kids can cheat the system through bribes or expensive tutors that make up for the poor education they would otherwise get. For poor kids to compete, they need to find ways of cheating that don't require money.

about two weeks ago
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Florida-Based Magic Leap Builds Its Team With Bay Area Hires

ranton Re:Perhaps the answer is taxes (161 comments)

In TX, state revenues come from Sales Tax, which is inherently progressive because sales tax is not applied to food items

No, sales tax is not inherently progressive. Property taxes and sales taxes are most regressive taxes there is. Texas may make some allowances for food items, but that does almost nothing when it comes to making their tax system progressive. And while Texas is not the most regressive state, it is in the top 5.

Looking at Texas and California, for example, here is a comparison of how regressive their taxes are. Each group represents family income for non-elderly taxpayers. source

Taxes paid by:
Lowest 20% - CA 10.6%, TX 12.6%
Second 20% - CA 9.2%, TX 10.4%
Middle 20% - CA 8.2%, TX 8.6%
Fourth 20% - CA 7.6%, TX 7.4%
Next 15% - CA 7.4%, TX 6.1%
Next 4% - CA 8.7%, TX 4.9%
Top 1% - CA 8.8%, TX 3.2%

This shows the wealthy top 1% in Texas pay 64% less of their state's taxes as the wealthy in California. So while I do see why the top 20% of Texas residents really like this situation, I don't see how they sleep at night.

about two weeks ago
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Florida-Based Magic Leap Builds Its Team With Bay Area Hires

ranton Re: Outsourcing is it (161 comments)

Who in Florida could do this? None but the very old and very Cuban in Florida. At least down in the wang part.

Disney. Next question?

The Walt Disney Studios - 500 S. Buena Vista Street, Burbank, California
Walt Disney Animation Studios - 2100 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank, California
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures - 500 S. Buena Vista Street, Burbank, California
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment - Burbank, California
Disney Interactive Studios - Glendale, California

I couldn't find one major non-theme park division of Disney headquartered in Florida, although I didn't look much harder than Wikipedia.

Perhaps you should answer the question correctly before moving to the next one.

about two weeks ago
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Amazon's Luxembourg Tax Deals

ranton Re:Tax collection for hire (200 comments)

Yeah, I pay sales tax on goods I purchase, yet I still have to pay income tax. Funny how that works.

And the employees and shareholders of Amazon pay income and capital gains taxes as well, so what is your point? They just don't feel they should be paying twice in a global market where they have other options.

about two weeks ago
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Amazon's Luxembourg Tax Deals

ranton Re:Tax collection for hire (200 comments)

Though I have a sneaking suspicion that this isn't allowed for the little guy.

You are more than capable of incorporating yourself if you think it will help with taxes. I did it when I was doing independent consulting. I even had a lease agreement with myself so I could deduct extra expenses even though I was taking the standard deduction on my personal tax returns. It i perfectly legal.

But when it comes to employee compensation, there are going to be rules governing what you can or cannot expense as a business. Just like there are or the big guys.

about two weeks ago
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Will HP's $200 Stream 11 Make People Forget About Chromebooks?

ranton Re: No (232 comments)

You're complaining about the offerings of two entirely different price points. This for $200 versus a macbook air? It's only 5 to 6 times more expensive. For the price point the value is clear here, even if you're blind to price point.

While the AC is a bit silly for comparing any HP Stream spec with the Macbook Air, s/he does make a good point that 10 GB of free storage space is really really low. You need to produce a usable product for people to buy it, regardless of the price point. 10 GB is just too low, and it is pretty obvious IMHO that a 64 GB drive would have made this product far more useful, even if it would have made the product $225 instead of $200.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Where Do You Stand on Daylight Saving Time?

ranton Re:I'm surrounded by morons (613 comments)

What kind of moron thinks that he doesn't have the ability to choose his own career and work when he likes?

So any grievance you have that isn't horrible enough to prompt you to quit your job is not worthy of complaints? Get a grip.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Where Do You Stand on Daylight Saving Time?

ranton Re:I'm surrounded by morons (613 comments)

I like the extra sunlight in the evening...

Then wake up earlier! Futzing around with the clock doesn't change the length of the day. I loose a little more respect for the entire human race every year when I have to hear "more sunlight in the evening" again.

What kind of moron doesn't understand that some people have set work hours and it can't just shift their schedule however they want. Waking up early doesn't give you more sunlight at the end of your work day if you have to stay in the office until 5:30-6pm. And if you hate mornings, more sunlight in the morning is not a substitute.

I could care less about sunlight in the evening, and also think it is a silly complaint, but your condemnation of it is far more overboard than their silly request.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Microsoft Surface 3 Announced

ranton ranton writes  |  about 6 months ago

ranton (36917) writes "Microsoft has just announced the third generation of their Surface tablet. The most notable update is a larger 12 inch screen while still weighing less than the Surface 2. The announcement also went over various software updates to help make the tablet as productive as a laptop or desktop computer. The Surface Pro 3 goes on sale tomorrow starting at $799."

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