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65,000 Complaints Later, Microsoft Files Suit Against Tech Support Scammers

stdarg Re: Keep them busy. (219 comments)

I've started to do this as a minor hobby as well. Now I want to take it a step further and get contact I do to report them. They really don't like giving out a working phone number though.

Next time I get "card services" on the line I want to try reeeally playing the part of genuinely being interested and then suddenly something comes up and I have to go. Perhaps they'll risk it.

yesterday
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Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

stdarg Re:Should Allah be translated to God? (876 comments)

I just had another conversation with someone about this topic and I wanted to add this because it came up.

You seem to be confused about whether "Allah" is a proper noun or a generic. Like the word "God" in English it is both.

I think it is a confusing concept, but one way to think of it is one word with two meanings. God can mean "the one monotheistic god" or it can mean "a deity." But when translating a word to another language, it's not true that every meaning gets translated the same way. As a concrete example, the word "set" has tons of English definitions. One translation of "set" to German is "Satz." That encompasses several of the same definitions as "set" including "a collection of things" and "a series of tennis games."

But another definition of "set" in English is equipment, like a TV set. In German that gets translated as "Gerat."

So even if it's true that one form of Allah (the generic form) should be translated as God, that doesn't hold that all meanings of Allah should be translated as God.

4 days ago
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Google Suggests Separating Students With 'Some CS Knowledge' From Novices

stdarg Re:Let them eat cake! (307 comments)

Your statement relies on a false premise. If race were "irrelevant" as a factor, then there would be no disparity along racial lines.

You've missed what I was referring to when I said it's irrelevant. To take a concrete example, I don't think black kids are less able to program. So race is irrelevant in their programming ability.

That's not to say race isn't relevant to things like "what populations are less exposed to programming classes."

But a race-blind program that targets all children who can't program would automatically take those demographics into account. If more black kids currently aren't exposed to programming, then a program that helps all kids program would disproportionately help black kids.

But creating a program that specifically helps black kids to the exclusion of other kids is racist, even though it would have a similar effect (disproportionately helping black kids).

4 days ago
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Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

stdarg Re:Should Allah be translated to God? (876 comments)

No, I explicitly differentiated between language customs in English and other languages. English has a tradition of adopting foreign words, many other languages do not and are more resistant to it.

The fact that Christian Arabs use the word Allah to name the Christian god and the Muslim god has *absolutely no bearing* on what the Christian god and the Muslim god are called in English.

The fact that you think my argument is "incoherent" when it's just pointing out some fairly obvious attributes of our shared language is very odd.

4 days ago
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Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

stdarg Re:Should Allah be translated to God? (876 comments)

No because I already knew that, as I indicated in my post ("Arabs can call God whatever they want in their own language, including Arab Christians who call the Christian god Allah.").

The words people use in Arabic are different than the words people use in English. If they want to use Allah to describe both concepts they can do that. I'm talking about how some people translate Allah into God when speaking English. That doesn't make sense. We don't translate other religious names like Jesus and Muhammed. We transliterate them, but we don't come up with completely different sounding new names based on people in our own culture who play a similar role in some respect. Like, oh Muhammed is a really common name for Muslims, so that's like the equivalent of John. Let's call him John! Or, Muhammed was a prophet, let's just call him Moses because he was a prophet too, and they both start with M! That's dumb, we don't do that with names.

about a week ago
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Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

stdarg Re:Should Allah be translated to God? (876 comments)

This isn't about etymology. It's irrelevant how God and Allah were derived. What's relevant is how they're used today.

Louis in German is Louis, obviously.

about a week ago
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Judge Rules Drug Maker Cannot Halt Sales of Alzheimer's Medicine

stdarg Re:Can you say... (263 comments)

Sorry, do you actually believe what you wrote?

Let's say it's 9am. My pediatrician's office is open. The urgent care down the road is open. The ER is open. My child has a fever of 105F.

Why on Earth do you think the *real cost* of treating my child at the ER is 10x greater than at my pediatrician's office or the urgent care place? Do you think regular pediatricians make $200k/year, but ER p ediatricians make $2 million/year? Do ER nurses make 10x more salary than regular nurses? Does infant Tylenol cost 10x more when an ER buys it?

If ER is 10x more expensive, that means they are doing cost-sharing between unprofitable and profitable services. A thug with a gunshot wound may cost a lot to treat, and may end up not paying, so they jack up the prices of infant Tylenol to cover for it. It's a poor-man's insurance scheme for doctors... people facing emergencies may not pay, so soak the ones who do pay.

The thing is, if you successfully divert all the people with fevers away from the ER and over to urgent care, that doesn't magically make the ER more cost efficient. It doesn't actually save money. It just gets rid of some of the cost-sharing. So other services that you can't shift get even more expensive.

And if you're simply talking about preventive care making emergencies happen less frequently, studies are inconclusive about whether that actually saves money on average. The cost of preventive care over a 50 year period is more than the ER cost of a single episode.

about a week ago
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Judge Rules Drug Maker Cannot Halt Sales of Alzheimer's Medicine

stdarg Re:Can you say... (263 comments)

The idea of regular/preventive care saving money is not established. Some studies have shown reduced costs, others have shown increased costs. If it were settled, then all hospitals would do what you described, because all hospitals want to save money while also providing better care.

about a week ago
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Judge Rules Drug Maker Cannot Halt Sales of Alzheimer's Medicine

stdarg Re:Can you say... (263 comments)

You've overabstracted and that leads to false equivalences. It's like saying "You don't like chocolate, and you don't like strawberry, but you claim you actually like pistachio ice cream??? Nonsense! You said you don't like 'flavors' and pistachio is also a 'flavor'!"

Complaining about one or two specific either/or arguments is not the same as complaining about all either/or arguments.

about a week ago
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Judge Rules Drug Maker Cannot Halt Sales of Alzheimer's Medicine

stdarg Re:Can you say... (263 comments)

In July, there will be a market for the generic... the people who don't want to pay top dollar for the new drug and were happy with the old drug. Why would all these people magically forget about how great the old drug was and not see that there's now a cheap alternative treatment?

In the meantime, why would the new drug be more expensive than the old drug? The old drug is still under patent protection until July so they can set the price to be whatever they want without risk of losing share to competition... unless of course there is competition that you're not telling us about, like alternative treatments. And those will still exist for the new drug.

The stories I've heard are more along the lines of the drug company introducing a genuinely superior product.. not necessarily in its effectiveness, but in something tangential like easy of administration. A 24-hour tablet instead of taking 6 pills throughout the day. A non-drowsy version.

Then the generic comes along but it's for the old method, which is now seen as crappy by consumers. So many people still pay more for the new drug.

That actually makes sense and there's not really anything wrong with it. That's good actually... now there's a cheap version and a premium version and people can choose.

about a week ago
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Google Suggests Separating Students With 'Some CS Knowledge' From Novices

stdarg Re:Just let them test out! (307 comments)

Someone citing white privilege pretty much immediately reveals they have no clue about real white people. They get their information from movies and biographies of famous people. The person who came up with the "white privilege" concept, Peggy McIntosh, did indeed have a privileged life. She studied at Radcliffe and Harvard and ended up with a cushy professorship teaching "women's studies" -- pretty much a complete BS job.

Of course, she had no clue that she was confusing most of her points about white privilege with "rich privilege." She's a true idiot.

I think there is validity to the concept of white privilege, but it's much different than what race baiters spout off about today. I also understand the concept of black privilege, male privilege, female privilege, etc. Every group has something that can be seen as a privilege.

about a week ago
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Google Suggests Separating Students With 'Some CS Knowledge' From Novices

stdarg Re:Let them eat cake! (307 comments)

I'm pretty sure that slavery wasn't created by African Americans.

You're absolutely right. Who do you think created slavery, though?

The issue here is not, "reverse discrimination to make things equal." That is a straw man. What is being discussed is identifying where American society is failing to provide opportunities, and targeting those demographics

You're deluding yourself. Giving help to some people and not others on the basis of irrelevant traits like race and gender and "those demographics", is exactly what "reverse discrimination to make things equal" means.

If you want to make a Center for Kids Who Can't Program Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too, then guess what... you can do that! Note the complete absence of words like "black" and "girl" and "Latino" and "demographics" and all that. If you want to help kids who can't program, then say "Hey can you program? No? Take this class!"

It's not hard and anything that strays from that simple technique is racist bullshit itself.

about a week ago
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Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

stdarg Should Allah be translated to God? (876 comments)

It seems stupid to translate words that have become proper names for distinct concepts. David is David in English and David in French. Do you know what David is in German? David. In Arabic it's also David. Just because other cultures have similar sounding or meaning names doesn't mean you substitute them.. David is not Davide, it's not Davit, it's not Dawid, it's not Daud... it's David.

We definitely don't translate names like "Abdullah" to "Abdugod."

In English it's common to adopt words from other languages to express new concepts. The Muslim god is Allah, not God. Allah is too different from God to get the same name in English. Arabs can call God whatever they want in their own language, including Arab Christians who call the Christian god Allah.

It's just so stupid when things like "Allahu akbar!" are translated in news stories as "God is great" as if it means anything close to the same thing when Muslims say it as when Christians say it.

about a week ago
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'Moneyball' Approach Reduces Crime In New York City

stdarg Re:A tech gloss over racial profiling? (218 comments)

If I had a choice between getting mugged, and getting arrested by the cops on fake charges and charged with a felony, I'd rather get mugged.

Pretty sure your chances of the former are higher.

Let's put it this way... would you rather experience an encounter of unknown outcome with a mugger, randomly selected from all muggings, or an encounter of unknown outcome with a cop, randomly selected from all encounters with cops?

But I don't have to worry, because that mostly happens to people who are black.

It happens mostly to people who commit serious crimes or are around people who commit serious crimes, not to people who are black. There is overlap of course.

about two weeks ago
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'Moneyball' Approach Reduces Crime In New York City

stdarg Re:A tech gloss over racial profiling? (218 comments)

Even if you assume racism is involved at various steps of the process, it's hardly "garbage" data.

Then there's the possibility that areas with racist law enforcement genuinely have more crime, either due to people committing crimes in protest, or due to cops becoming racist due to the criminals who they interact with. In that case the "racist" data is completely valid in helping predict future crime levels.

about two weeks ago
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'Moneyball' Approach Reduces Crime In New York City

stdarg Re:A tech gloss over racial profiling? (218 comments)

"Efficient law enforcement" is not a higher priority than "free and fair society".

Racial profiling does not take away from a free and fair society though.

Well, it depends exactly what you mean by racial profiling since the term encompasses so many possible actions. Going around harassing black people "just in case" is counter to a free and fair society. But making law enforcement more efficient by looking at factors like race, sex, age, wealth, hairstyle, clothing, gang affiliation, etc is fine.

about two weeks ago
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The Cashless Society? It's Already Coming

stdarg Re:You can pry my wallet from my... (375 comments)

There are credit card processors today that have a fee structure to take micropayments into account.

Paypal, for instance, charges 5% + 5 cents if that works out to be less than their normal fee.

Amazon Payments used to have the information publicly visible, but now you have to contact sales, but from what I recall it used to be 5% + 5 cents as well.

So your $1 bread will have about $0.10 in fees.

about three weeks ago
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The Cashless Society? It's Already Coming

stdarg Re:You can pry my wallet from my... (375 comments)

A small business might be paying 2.5%, but a large, multiple state grocery store isn't. There's certainly no way they are paying 5%, which is my cash back reward for groceries.

I'm sure you're familiar with the concept of loss leaders, so why is it hard to believe credit card companies lose money on some customers in the hopes that on average they'll make more money?

about three weeks ago
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AT&T To "Pause" Gigabit Internet Rollout Until Net Neutrality Is Settled

stdarg Re: Yeah right (308 comments)

No they don't. They haven't spent any money on CAPEX, just a monthly lease for each end user connection: why would they charge more if the costs to them work out to be the same? If I spend the equivalent of $20/month on my own infra instead of $20/month using someone elses, my prices are probably going to be the same.

You're still missing my point. In the absence of price regulation, what you describe can't happen.

Let's say A pays $20/month/subscriber in infrastructure maintenance, upgrades, new development, etc.

Case 1a - there's no price regulation, and A can still sell to consumers.
Case 1b - there's no price regulation, and A cannot sell to consumers, just to the other providers
Case 2a - there is price regulation, and A can still sell to consumers
Case 2b - there is price regulation, and A cannot sell to consumers, just to the other providers

In 1a, A will charge what the market will bear. They'll have incentives for new subscribers and poor people that let them get on the network. The cost will be like $30/month. For most subscribers, the cost will be $40/month. What will A charge B? If they charge less than $40/month... let's say $35/month... they will potentially lose their core customers because B might undercut them at $39/month. Why would they do that?

In 1b, A cannot sell to consumers, just to B. But A still knows that the market can bear so many subscribers at $30/month plus so many more at $40/month. They know if they charge $100/month, nobody will sign up and they'll lose money. They know if they charge $21/month, more people will sign up but their profit will be too low. What do they do? If they're allowed to charge differential prices, it's exactly the same as 1a. "Oh, you want to lease a new line? $30/month special. After a year it's $40/month." If they're not allowed to charge differential prices, they figure out the weighted average and charge that. Maybe $35/month. Their overall profit is the same, meanwhile B and C make money in some areas and lose money in others (perhaps they're regulated to provide equivalent coverage).

In 2a, with price regulation, you say okay A, we know it costs you $20/month, and we think $30/month is a fair profit, so you WILL charge $30/month per line.

In 2b... it's exactly the same.

As you can see, the fake competition provided by B, C, D, E, etc play no role in establishing the market price for the service, because they do not control the service. Only the price controls work. The sub-divisions of "a" and "b" make no difference either... just the price controls.

Provider B gets a committed information rate on Provider A's infrastructure, which for 6mbit/s DSL is probably going to be about 64kbit/s, but since Provider B would have 1,000 customers aggregated, there's total available bandwidth on Provider A's network available of 60mbit/s or so, allowing Provider B's customers to achieve 6mbit/s speeds (in other words, this is how it works already, except that instead of 1 retailer utilizing the infrastructure you have many).

The thing is, you're assuming A is required to allow B to hook up their own interconnects. That's incorrect. That was my point with bringing up Comcast in real life... they can say "Yeah I know it's slow. It sucks. But too bad, we're not letting you connect faster lines to OUR network." This has actually come up in real life. I'm sure you read about Netflix offering to pay 100% of the cost to upgrade Comcast's interconnect with Level 3 (the carrier for Netflix). Comcast refused, because they want a nice fat monthly fee, not a one-time free upgrade.

And if the law is purely "You have to lease the lines you control to B, C, D, E, and F" then you have not changed that (even with price controls). You're going to have to introduce additional regulations that say "And you have to let B, C, D, E, and F have access at the interconnects so they can upgrade them at their own cost or whatever."

But then, you can just have that law to begin with and leave the first part out. Once again, the "competition" on the lines owned by A provides nothing, it's the additional regulations that make the difference.

That all being said, I'd still maintain that ideally what you want are dumb pipes which are owned/operated by a company that doesn't deal with the public whose sole purpose is to build, maintain, extend & upgrade the network, like what has been done in NZ

Yes exactly.. from what I've read, this is how it usually works. And then pricing regulations (or in fact the dumb pipes being government owned outright) removes the problem of market pricing that I was talking about above.

I'm not disagreeing with that, and I support municipal fiber projects (the term for it here in America usually). I'm just pointing out that it's useless to try to shoehorn in competition. It's a technique used these days by big-government people to try to appeal to small-government people. "Look, we use competition! Free market! How can conservatives object to the free market?!" That makes it sound nice. But it's a load of crap... it's not competition that makes municipal fiber so attractive, in fact it's the LACK of competition and the LACK of profit motive on the network owner's part that makes it attractive. The government provides it at cost as a public service, and we use it. Like roads.

That's my only point, because I happen to love free market capitalism and I hate to see it abused. Just call a spade a spade. Not everything has to be free market and competitive.

about three weeks ago
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Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

stdarg Re:Deliberate (652 comments)

This isn't an echo chamber. You suggested that nuclear power is not flourishing under authoritarian regimes, but in fact it is.. at least among regimes with the technical and manufacturing know-how to build nuclear reactors. Almost every developing country that doesn't have nuclear power wants it. And those who do have it are expanding it.

Flourishing doesn't mean nuclear provides a majority of the electricity in those countries, as you pointed out, but that's okay. The point is China is building 28 reactors or whatever, and the US is building... 4. And they are delayed and over budget. It's definitely flourishing compared to here.

Even under less authoritarian regimes, like India, the simple lack of as many environmental (including human impact) regulations is letting them explore technologies like thorium reactors more feasibly than we could here.

about three weeks ago

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