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Senator Who Calls STEM Shortage a Hoax Appointed To Head Immigration

wallsg Disturbance in the Force (511 comments)

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if in the large overlap between the "H1Bs are Bad" and "Hate All Corporate Shill Republicans" groups on /. there are a lot of heads exploding.

4 days ago
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Innocent Adults Are Easy To Convince They Committed a Serious Crime

wallsg Re:The average human being (291 comments)

Along with that, jurors should be allowed to directly question attorneys and witnesses.

In Arizona at least jurors can submit questions to the judge. The judge determines if the question is reasonable and if so asks the witness. I asked a question in a check kiting case that was being prosecuted under RICO many years ago.

about a week ago
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Obama Unveils Plan To Bring About Faster Internet In the US

wallsg Re:Obama: please stop helping us! (417 comments)

TL;DR: some businesses will just be monopolies, and that's why there are either city services or regulated monopolies.

Some things are considered "natural monopolies": "an industry in which it is most efficient (involving the lowest long-run average cost) for production to be permanently concentrated in a single firm rather than contested competitively." (wikipedia) You will find traditional "utility" companies in this category. Since the market would trend toward a monopoly, local governments either chose to take on that role (city sanitation, city water, etc), or chose to create a "regulated monopoly" (like Arizona Public Service, Cox Cable, etc).

Where the real problem occurs is when an industry changes and it should no longer be considered a natural monopoly but the out-of-date regulations block competition. For example, if Google wants to lay fiber there are some places where it would legally be unable to do so because it would be competing with the regulated monopoly, which is only regulated and de facto protected (at a supposedly lower profit than it would make if unregulated) because there is no competition.

Oldsters will remember when there literally was The Phone Company, which was American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), a subsidiary of Bell Telephone Company. This company was literally The Phone System. At one time they owned EVERYTHING, including the phone wires in your house, and NOTHING could be attached to those wires except equipment owned by Bell Telephone and rented by the consumer. They also were THE Long Distance provider.

Eventually the telephone industry advanced to the point that it was no longer a natural monopoly and the regulations got in the way. AT&T was broken up and only the hard wires to the house are considered a monopoly item. And now, with VOIP, even those aren't always necessary.

Electricity has started down this route where you have to pay the APS portion of your bill relating to the physical transport medium for the electricity, but you can select a third-party from which to buy the actual electricity. (Throw in solar and you've raised a little issue as to how that transport medium is billed, which is a topic for another time.)

With ISPs we're in that painful period where out-dated regulations are holding things back instead of protecting consumers by capping prices. ISPs should be divorced from from the physical medium and you should be able to chose which ISP that you want to connect to over your Cox Cable (for example). There are, obviously, many technical details that would need to be worked through, but the coax or fiber optic cable running into my house should not lock me into that company's ISP service.

Note that this does NOT solve the problem of how to get a high-speed connection to everyone. In some cases there is just no business case that can be made to run a high-speed line to service three houses in a five-mile radius twenty miles down a dirt road in the Arizona desert. And yes, those places do exist. These are why "essential services" have must-serve provisions in their government-monopoly agreements and why these consumers pay the same rate as everyone else. (Also note that when people chose to build in places like this they are charged SUBSTANTIAL fees for laying power cables, for instance, if they are more than a certain distance from an existing line. This is why the really isolated places like generate all of their own power.)

about two weeks ago
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Intuit Charges More For Previously Offered TurboTax Features, Users Livid

wallsg Re:Schedule D?! (450 comments)

Two words: Mutual Fund.

about two weeks ago
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The Billionaires' Space Club

wallsg What this usually boils down to (235 comments)

Didn't read the article, but what this usually boils down to is that the author is pissed that the money is being spent on something that he doesn't find important, and that if only HE had that kind of money he'd know how to spend it better than the morons who somehow were "lucky" enough to get it when he wasn't.

about three weeks ago
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Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains His Christmas Tweet

wallsg Re:No group "owns" any day on the calendar. (681 comments)

It is also offensive that people think that they have a "right" to throw a fit on a plane because a flight attendant (note: NOT a government employee so there's no "separation of church and state" issue) DARES to wish people a Merry Christmas. Their "right" to not hear the ugly words "Merry Christmas" is actually taking away the free-speech and freedom of religion rights of another to say it.

"I don't care if you're offended that I burn a piece of red, white, and blue patterned fabric. I have a right to do so." "You can't say Merry Christmas because it offends me." The First Amendment allows both. Get over it.

There's an entire generation of people who think that they and their "rights" are the center of the universe and that they can tell everyone else (who evidently have no rights) what they can and can't do as to please them.

about a month ago
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What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

wallsg The M-5 Multitronic Unit Means... (628 comments)

Men no longer need die in space, or on some alien world. Men can live, and go on to achieve greater things than fact-finding and dying for galactic space, which is neither ours to give or to take. Can't understand. We don't want to destroy life, we want to save it.

My regards to Captain Dunsel.

about a month ago
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Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

wallsg Re:Not really missing vinyl (433 comments)

(I, too, grew up in that time. I can vaguely remember watching the last couple of seasons of ST:TOS first run. It seem to recall that Land of the Giants was on about the same time. I don't remember anything about that series except for a guy taped to a desk.)

"Warmth" == Distortion. I'm sure that there are warmth filters that can be applied to digital music.

My ears were never good enough to hear the supposed difference between digital and analog music, but they're sure good enough to hear snaps, crackles, and pops. I'll take digital.

I'm sure dedicated audiophiles will trash me for this.

about a month and a half ago
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The Case For Flipping Your Monitor From Landscape to Portrait

wallsg There is One Advantage (567 comments)

If you did this at least all of the idiot vertical cell phone videos would fit.

about a month and a half ago
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The Case For Flipping Your Monitor From Landscape to Portrait

wallsg Re:Have Both (567 comments)

I've rotated my screen 360 degrees :-)

On a related note, I always encrypt text with ROT-13 twice for extra safety.

about a month and a half ago
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You're Doing It All Wrong: Solar Panels Should Face West, Not South

wallsg Re:soo.... (327 comments)

I have the "combined advantage plan" (or something like that) from Arizona Public Service. I pay a rate calculated by two time-of-day zones (peak is Noon to 7PM) and by peak usage during the peak time. The peak usage is a running hourly average or something like that. I'm not really sure how it is calculated.

I have a "load controller" that I can set the maximum peak usage draw and it will start cutting off major 220v appliances during that time period when the draw limit is approached. It cuts off the drier's heating element and the two heat pump units. Mine is set so that the water heater is off during the entire peak time as the water retains enough heat for things like washing your hands and rinsing (not washing) dishes.

In the Phoenix the summer rates are far higher than the winter rates. Also, in the winter I can cut the load controller down to very low because on all but the "coldest" days you really don't need to heat during the day. In the summer it's a balance between saving money and comfort.

They had an older 9 to 9 plan that saved a little more but that was VERY inconvenient.

about 2 months ago
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You're Doing It All Wrong: Solar Panels Should Face West, Not South

wallsg Re:soo.... (327 comments)

One of the draws of solar is that you can choose to lay down the money (with favorable tax consequences, usually) and then you reap the benefit.

What you're talking about is completely different. Usually when the power company builds plants they don't get the same very-favorable tax benefits that an individual does and the power costs more. A lot of power companies (including Arizona Public Service and the Salt River Project, IIRC) allow you to voluntarily pay more to have some of your allocated from their solar facilities.

People who want to talk about the "true costs of oil/coal" want to forget about the "true costs of solar" being subsidized by tax credits and rebates.

about 2 months ago
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Hawking Warns Strong AI Could Threaten Humanity

wallsg Re:So What (574 comments)

Do you think?

Bomb#20: In the beginning, there was darkness. And the darkness was without form, and void.

Boiler: What the hell is he talking about?

Bomb#20: And in addition to the darkness there was also me. And I moved upon the face of the darkness. And I saw that I was alone. Let there be light.

about 2 months ago
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How the World's First Computer Was Rescued From the Scrap Heap

wallsg Chimera (126 comments)

Next you'll be claiming that the US didn't single-handedly win both world wars!

We did pretty much single-handedly stop the Chimera invasion in 1949 though.

about 2 months ago
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Apple Disables Trim Support On 3rd Party SSDs In OS X

wallsg I just knew it (327 comments)

When I saw the title of the thread I just knew. This behavior is total unacceptable and would be considered anti-competitive if another company did it, but I just knew that this thread would be full of Apple apologists trying to explain that this was OK because Apple. I was right.

What other company would you give a Big Thumbs Up to for refusing to install drivers for third-party hardware because SOME drivers MAY be implemented poorly? Or make it difficult to install a competitor's software? Microsoft? It was a major scandal that they INCLUDED their own software (IE), let alone if they were to actively suppress the competition's.

about 2 months ago
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The Downside to Low Gas Prices

wallsg Re:Stupid, trucks cause the problem (554 comments)

There is no downside to lower gas prices. lower prices on anything is always a positive.

  we as a group are saving billions a day after a very long recession. The gas prices are still not low enough to help those who need it most, the poor and lower middle class.

Not entirely true as a long term downtrend in overall prices (deflation) is a huge drag on an economy as people put off purchases waiting for things to get cheaper. This leads to a lower volume of products being made (and fewer jobs making them) and slower innovation. In the PC world you sometimes see people skipping a generation (or two) of graphics adapters just for that reason, but fortunately not enough to have a real impact. Now imagine that behavior applied to every tangible good that people buy. You have a less "wasteful" society as things aren't thrown away as quickly, but you also have a market in which a new or improved product, after selling through the early adopters, has few buyers and may never get mainstream adoption. No demand for new products means less R&D into making them and slower innovation. Why waste the money?

As far as lower gas and oil prices, that is HUGE. Like $40,000,000,000 huge according to this (and several other) articles:

Falling Gas Prices Could Provide $40 Billion Boost to Economy

Just how big of a boost can lower gas prices provide? Joseph LaVorgna and Brett Ryan, economists at Deutsche Bank, offered one answer in a note to clients Tuesday. “According to our calculations, every one cent annual change in gasoline prices is worth approximately $1 billion in annual U.S. household energy consumption,” he wrote. “The bottom line is that if the current 40 cent decline in energy costs is maintained, then consumer cash flow would improve by roughly $40 billion; this is equivalent to almost three-tenths on annualized GDP growth.”

Just how much of that extra money consumers actually spend on goods and services may depend in part on how confident they are that the economy and job market will continue to improve. But with stagnant wages still holding back consumer spending, every extra dollar will help.

Most people pushing for a higher gas tax to "save the highway fund" really care most about increasing the price of gas for "environmental reasons". If they really just cared about saving the highway fund then they would propose means of funding it that applied the burden either equally on ALL PEOPLE as all people benefit from the highways whether they use them directly or not, or on EVERYONE WHO USES THEM regardless of the type of fuel/batteries they use to motivate their vehicles. This is just the opposite of what they want though. Their true cause is to use the highway fund problems as an excuse to raise the gas tax to punish the troglodytes who still use gasoline-powered cars. Most of these people would be perfectly happy with a low- or no-growth economy since that would slow carbon emission growth.

Slower growth in carbon emissions, gas burning troglodytes punished, electric car owners pay less than their Fair Share for highway use. Win-win-win!

about 2 months ago
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Washington Dancers Sue To Prevent Identity Disclosure

wallsg Hypocrisy (461 comments)

I bet there are quite a few people arguing that this is a Bad Thing here but were all in favor of the New York fiasco of publishing maps to the homes of people with firearms permits, because it was after all, you know, "public record".

about 3 months ago
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Mayday PAC Goes 2 For 8

wallsg Re:Nothing's gonna change. (224 comments)

We put a lazy absentee senator (Pat Roberts) back in because the Democrats dropped out of the race to support an "independent" that out 'cratted the Democrats, bobbled his head when he talked and avoided taking a stand on any issue that might show him to be a Democrat in disguise. Honestly, he must've thought the state were simple peasant rubes.

Well, of course he did. All national Democrats do. At least the national Democrat party perspective is that everyone between the two coasts (except Chicago) are a bunch of rubes. It's "fly-over country", after all. Nothing there is important except every other November.

about 3 months ago
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Undersized Grouper Case Lands In Supreme Court

wallsg Re:If they're going literal.... (251 comments)

Nevermind the consequences if they limit the meaning -- it will be legal to destroy most kinds of evidence in a criminal investigation. It's all A-OK if it didn't contain financial records right? Right?

Considering that Sarbane-Oxley is supposed to be about financial crimes and that destruction of evidence is already illegal under other statutes, then yes. Charge people under the statute that actually logically applies, not the one that gives the steepest penalties.

This is as stupid as charging two 18-year-olds under RICO laws because there was a "conspiracy" as the two of them drove around looking for someone to buy them liquor.

about 3 months ago

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