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World's Largest Patent Troll Fires First Salvo

theodicey Re:Neal Stephenson has a hand in this (189 comments)

I once knew someone who was naive enough to confuse a patent troll operation with a real Menlo Park skunkworks/invention lab.

She was 22 years old and looking for a job; what's Stephenson's excuse?

more than 3 years ago

Database Error Costs Social Security Victims $500M

theodicey Re:How on earth... (299 comments)

You have it backwards. Single-payer advocates aren't pointing to a single system, you are. We're comparing the US with every other system in the developed world.

The US health care system is half as efficient as every other system -- every other country is providing an equivalent level of health for half of our cost. So either the US government is twice as bad as every other government in the world -- possible, although unlikely -- or it will do a better job running health care than the cronies and incompetents of the health insurance industry.

By the way, Medicare has the lowest overhead, by far, of any health plan in the country. It's not perfect, but you're still misinformed.

more than 5 years ago

US Postal Service Moves To GNU/Linux

theodicey Re:Improve tracking? (477 comments)

Will this allow them to improve their tracking system?

I suspect it was their old backend system that was preventing them from improving tracking. If the old system couldn't scale, there was no point in scanning letters at all intermediate points -- just origin, maybe one hub, and destination. This new system seems to have the capacity to scale to a very large number of transactions. We'll see if they start offering more tracking data now.

more than 5 years ago

US Postal Service Moves To GNU/Linux

theodicey Re:Now? (477 comments)

that's why fedex costs so much more, they have to classify and price it as something other than a letter - so that's an indirect tax by government intervention to prevent a free market.

Yes, I'm sure that classifying and pricing are exactly why FedEx charges nearly 20 times as much as the USPS.

More likely, FedEx and UPS are inefficient and poorly set up for everything but regular package delivery to business locations, and it would cost them hundreds of billions to compete with the post office for general delivery. Billions which no one is going to invest in the foreseeable future. Doesn't FedEx still ship your letter from Seattle to SF through Memphis?

more than 5 years ago

Controversy Over San Francisco Public Transportation Data

theodicey Re:Lost money? (111 comments)

No data rights, at the very least. Possibly more.

It's confusing terminology because here "no data rights" means Muni gets complete access to data (but none to source code).

more than 5 years ago

Controversy Over San Francisco Public Transportation Data

theodicey Re:Arrival times != timetables (111 comments)

To me the author of the article is deliberately confusing public timetables with transmissions showing the position and expected arrival times of a bus.

No, that's not even an issue. The timetables are entirely public data generated by Muni (SFMTA) and are available many ways including Google Transit's GTFS. The author seems aware of this.

The only issue is about who has the rights to the data generated by Nextbus's proprietary prediction algorithms. According to Muni's spokesperson they have already paid for this data, and presumably have an ironclad contract saying that. Even if this NBIS company is some part of Nextbus's parent company, they have no ability to interfere in this contract.

more than 5 years ago

Tesla Nabs $465M Government Loan To Build Model S

theodicey Re:It's a Loan. (505 comments)

The good thing about economics is you don't have to do a poll to see if banks were lending or not before TARP. There's financial data that shows they weren't; inter-bank lending had frozen.

Google "TED spread" and "LIBOR." Then go read Calculated Risk, Krugman, and Mankiw for center, left, and right takes on the subject.

While you're at it, I recommend googling "Dunning-Kruger effect." Not only are you patronizing, you think you're smarter than the experts when you don't actually know what you're talking about.

more than 5 years ago

US House Democrats Unveil a Health Care Plan

theodicey Re:It seems obvious from this (925 comments)

Health care isn't going to be Democrats negotiating with Republicans. I doubt the Republicans are going to contribute anything constructive to health reform, and so far they haven't put anything useful on the table. I wouldn't mind being proven wrong.

The current system is great for Republican politicians -- lots of fundraising to be done among rich healthcare CEOs and rich doctors, lots of noble rhetoric about the glories of the free market, the risks of "socialism" and sober warnings about the risks of change ( the system that every other developed country in the world currently has).

Also, if the government started providing health care as good as the VA or Medicaid, people might realize that the government can be more competent than the market (again, as it is in every other country) and Republicans would be forced to change. Instead, I expect they will try to scuttle the bill and leave us with the status quo, the world's most inefficient health care system by a factor of 2.

It'll be a negotiation like you say, but between Democrats and right-wing/corporate Democrats, or between the more populist Democrats in the House and richer corporate Democrats in the Senate.

more than 5 years ago

$1.9 Million Award In Thomas Case Raises Constitutional Questions

theodicey Re:Duh... (439 comments)

Yup. The Roberts court's infinite pity for poor beleaguered corporations such as Exxon and BMW will be replaced by complete concern for the victims of crimes committed by individuals.

Objectively, one would think that corporations would need more and clearer punishment, not leniency. The only thing preventing corporations from behaving amorally is the risk of financial punishment -- CEOs have almost no personal liability. Individual citizens risk criminal punishment, and have to answer to society's moral standards.

more than 5 years ago

UK Tax Breaks For "Culturally British" Games

theodicey Re:Corruption! (267 comments)

SimEstate, now including moat cleaning and stables repair.

more than 5 years ago

English Market Produces Energy With Kinetic Plates

theodicey Re:useful energy is not free (404 comments)

If you were driving on a road made of the things, without braking or bouncing, it would indeed be stealing energy, and all the "perpetual motion" type arguments would apply.

In a parking lot, it's very different. When you slow down, your kinetic energy either goes to this electric generator, your brakes as heat, or your shocks as heat.

more than 5 years ago

English Market Produces Energy With Kinetic Plates

theodicey Just converting kinetic energy into electrical (404 comments)

Probably 2/3 of the comments so far seem to think this is some kind of perpetual motion machine con. Those people should be embarrassed.

It's not. It's simple. It's just slowing cars by converting kinetic energy into electrical, instead of dissipating it as heat in the brakes or converting it to potential energy like a speed bump.

There was a discussion a while back, I think here on Slashdot, about a device that used a revolving door to generate energy. It prompted exactly the same comments. What these people didn't seem to realize is, revolving doors have brakes, and that device replaces the brakes. Same damn thing.

Do you really think the engineers who designed this device didn't think it through? This reminds me why it's never a good idea to discuss physics on Slashdot. I leave it to psychologists to explain why there are so many kneejerk contrarians.

more than 5 years ago

Firefox 3.5 Hits Release Candidate Milestone

theodicey Re:93/100... (202 comments)

Bad measurables are worse than no measurables. Counting enemy combatants killed didn't get McNamara or the army results in Vietnam.

ACID 3 sure came along at a convenient time for Google's browser marketing strategy. And it was designed so every browser would start from around the same score, not to test the most useful standards or the real-world web, so it wasn't very hard for Google and Apple to get to 100 when they focused on it.

The author of the test works for Google, of course...clearly it's a conspiracy, and frankly one I'm sick of hearing about.

more than 5 years ago

GM's Hummer Brand To Be Sold To a Chinese Company

theodicey Re:Yay (429 comments)

Lend-lease during WWII was free for the British.

Postwar reconstruction, however, was not.

Britain was nearly bankrupt for the next decade -- there was still rationing five years after the war. And the US made out extremely well -- the British even had to devalue their currency while they were borrowing money. They were less able to invest in infrastructure than the French and Germans, and the long term consequences for British industry (the world's most advanced from about 1850-1930) were severe.

The point stands -- international lending can be quite powerful.

more than 5 years ago

Newspaper Execs Hold Secret Meeting To Discuss Paywalls

theodicey Re:One idea... (390 comments)

If these journalists are so professional...where are they on covering the ACORN government-sponsored partisan politics?

Leaving the 'story' where it belongs, on NewsMax and FreeRepublic.

Like professionals.

more than 5 years ago

Wikipedia Bans Church of Scientology

theodicey Re:Yay (665 comments)

The home-school Christians took their football and went to play at Conservapedia, which is JUST AS FUN and as important as Wikipedia.

more than 5 years ago

US To Require That New Cars Get 42 MPG By 2016

theodicey Re:Equilibrium dynamics (1186 comments)

1. In a mature market such as autos, the Jevons paradox doesn't apply. 19th century coal was something of a growth industry.

2. For oil specifically, the OPEC cartel will regulate supply to prevent the price decrease that would trigger a demand increase. So the Jevons paradox won't apply either.

3. Economic theories are 95% BS. Economic theories recycled through columnists are 99% BS. "Light on the math" is an understatement. kdawson links to handwavy third-hand economics from an unqualified caveman columnist writing for a daily newspaper. Thanks for the service, Slashdot editors!

more than 5 years ago

The More Popular the Browser, the Slower It Is

theodicey Re:Not cause and effect (367 comments)

Acid 3 was designed to have a fixed minimum number of bugs in each browser (~20), regardless of their significance. It's not a good metric of standards compliance, or anything other than how desperate different browser vendors are for good PR.

more than 5 years ago

Battle Lines Being Drawn As Obama Plans To Curb Tax Avoidance

theodicey Re:two ways to solve the tax "scam" (1505 comments)

They've already been invaded -- Britain owns the Channel Islands, and the Caymans are a dependency of Britain.

They're receiving government services and government protection. They just aren't paying for it. That could easily be changed.

more than 5 years ago


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