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Comment Re:And yet (Score 3, Interesting) 412

Sure. Unless you consider Assange's very sanctuary in the embassy is essentially a big, Ecuadorian, middle finger to the US.

A very good point, because it indicates that Ecuador's recent decision to deny Assange internet access is inconsistent with their previous practice and therefore an unexplained contradiction. In the history of Wikileaks, what have they released which not impact an election? Indeed, influencing political outcomes by releasing secrets is Wikilieaks raison d'être. And Ecuador just noticed that now?

My guess would be that Ecuador was threatened either by an official in the Obama administration or by a Clinton functionary promising retaliation after she wins election.

Comment Re: And yet (Score 4, Informative) 412

from parent post:

Preventing the distribution of information that Hillary Clinton made speeches where she said in private the same things as she said in public? ..."

from one of Hillary Clinton's paid Wall Street speeches:

Clinton: “But If Everybody's Watching, You Know, All Of The Back Room Discussions And The Deals, You Know, Then People Get A Little Nervous, To Say The Least. So, You Need Both A Public And A Private Position.” You just have to sort of figure out how to -- getting back to that word, "balance" -- how to balance the public and the private efforts that are necessary to be successful, politically, and that's not just a comment about today.

Not only does Hillary Clinton advocate in private paid meetings to Wall Street bankers policies opposed her own public positions, she confesses in one of those meetings that she does. The contradictions between her public statements and private statements made to Wall Street bankers are why she suppressed the release of transcripts or recordings of those paid speeches during the primary and why their release by Wikileaks has been politically damaging to her.

Comment That's unusual (Score 3, Insightful) 44

About the recently defunct AT&T ad program: there are innumerable little such bullshit annoyances which businesses create for customers because it's part of the of the superstition and business culture to assume without question that whatever fraction of a percent of increased revenue they generate merits the frustration which they cause customers.

It's like those sale signs in the grocery store, "Sale, two for [some price]." You stand there, wasting time reading the sign, trying to figure out if you actually have to buy two to get the discount or if you just buy one do you still get a discounted price. Make this easier for everyone and state the sale price of just one, assholes. Of course the people making those labels believe they will cause customers to buy more if they suggest to do that, despite whatever inconvenience that creates when discovering the sales policy for smaller quantities. When I see those signs now, I think to myself, "well, fuck you too," and then shop at Costco and order from Amazon to avoid the bullshit. It is important to attune your senses to such corporate marketing and sales crap and then subvert or work around it; The expansion of corporate bullshit annoyance depends on customers not consciously recognizing and accounting for its burden.

The encrustation of that kind of crap has grown to such levels because customers are not consciously aware of the burden. But because its absence is psychologically uplifting, they respond positively with dollars when it is purged. Remember all those other web search engines which Google totally crushed? Their home pages loaded up with advertising? Then Google defied the convention of crowding ever-more advertising into the search page and displayed only their logo and the search box, and minimal, discrete related advertising in search results. And it was good. And the design genius of the Steve Jobs and the award-winning, insanely-high-sales-revenue-per-square-foot Apple Stores? Actually very simple formula: It's just stuff you want to buy sitting out on tables to look at and then purchase. The glass and wood and stone is cool, but it is slight-of-hand. The real reason the stores work is because of the absence of store bullshit. Stuff you want to buy sitting on tables to look at. Absolute genius.

Comment If you are into that (Score 5, Insightful) 474

So I have this friend with a father who is a Vietnam war hero. When the base was under attack, he would grab the nearest weapon he could get his hands on and run toward the enemy. He won a medal for demonstrating that after the enemy shoots the tail off your helicopter, it is indeed still flyable if you go just go fast enough. Funny thing was, his very successful military career was something of an accident. Before joining the army, when there was nothing at stake and nothing to be gained by it, he would get in trouble by doing some damn fool wild thing. After the umpteenth time the judge finally told him, it's the jail or the military, you choose.

It took a long time for me to understand because I am not like that myself, but some people need high-risk, crazy adventure to thrive. If that is denied to them, they will seize it anyway, however they can. So those people might as well expend that impulse on something socially redeeming, like establishing off-world human colonies, while the rest of us cower here on earth until interplanetary transport is proven safe.

Comment political motive vs. profit motive (Score 4, Interesting) 112

from the ./ summary:

Each country builds and maintains its own infrastructure for connecting citizens to the wider internet. The decision to expand and maintain the infrastructure in one region and not another is up to those in power. And therein lies the problem: Ethnic and religious minorities who are excluded from their country's political process may also be systematically excluded from the global internet.

Advocacy of individual economic freedom is often criticized because, among the many possible exercises of that freedom, is radical capitalism: the single-minded pursuit of profits over all other social concerns. Yet, a dedication to monetary profit alone in such conditions as described in the linked study would be preferable to the actual circumstance: a dedication to denying an oppressed group a vital service. Certainly there is much to be made by selling these groups internet service and someone is forgoing profits by not making those sales. More accurately, someone is compelled by government to forgo profits.

If all you want to do is make big profits, by definition you do not want to limit those profits by declining sales to politically unpopular groups.

The economist Milton Friedman said, "Human freedom and economic freedom work together." I disagree because that understates the connectedness of those freedoms; the two are one-in-the-same.


Comment We Risk Programming Inequality into Our DNA? (Score 4, Interesting) 367

from the ./ summary:

We Risk Programming Inequality into Our DNA ...With gene editing, this may be possible. Scientists are pioneering the ability to tweak our DNA to wipe out disease and maybe even allow us to choose desirable traits in our unborn children, like height or intelligence.

That is a rather stupid take on the issue for at least two reasons:

First, the situation at present is that humans already have unequal genetic gifts. Genetic engineering will enable us to help those who are deficient, to aid those (or the children of those) who suffer from from lousy genetic makeup. Think of it as eugenics done right; We do not exterminate or sterilize the genetically deficient, instead we enhance the genes of their offspring and let them carry on. That would increase, not decrease equality.

Second, we should be concerned with improved well-being of society as a whole, instead of (as appears the poster to be) obsessed with a perverse desire to make everyone equal. Making just only one person in the world better off is always a Pareto improvement but can either increase or decrease equality.


Comment make the punishment fit the crime (Score 5, Insightful) 124

So a few months ago, because I could not find the information anywhere on the entire internet, I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation to estimate how much more polluted the air in the U.S. is as a result of the VW emissions cheat. The answer is that the air is about zero percent more polluted because of that cheat.

The reason for that is that baseline emissions of diesel exhaust pollutants in the U.S. is so enormous. Commercial diesel tractor trailers emit pollutants at a much higher rate than do VW cars because the engines are so much larger and consume fuel at higher rates. The trucks run many more miles per years than the cars. There are many more diesel trucks than diesel cars. (There a lot of trucks and VW diesel cars are not huge sellers in the U.S.) So the net percentage increase in pollution because of that cheat calculates out to about zero.

VW is worth a lot of money and has not much political clout in the U.S. so this turned into feeding frenzy for lawyers. Penalties of this size are entirely unjustified by the degree of harm.

There should be a price for polluting, based strictly on the types and volumes of pollutants, and it should be applied to all, regardless of the type of vehicle or its nation of origin, or its owner. The right solution here is to tax vehicle exhaust emissions at a single universal rate and let manufacturers and buyers decide what to make and what to buy.

What we have instead is sanctioned pillaging.


Comment think of the children... (Score 1) 760

However, seven states who implemented drug testing for tax benefit program recipients spent $1 million on drug testing from the inception of their programs through 2014. But the average rate of drug use among those recipients has been far below the national average -- around 1% overall, compared with 9.4% in the general population

People who grow marijuana and smoke it should be prohibited from receiving government aid, but if you can not get a job because you are a chronically lazy, chain-smoking obese alcoholic with a porn addiction and a gambling compulsion then you are welcome to government handouts. What kind of incentive is that?

Conditioning government aid on actual need would be more appealing if the people devising policy were not imbeciles.

They could start by weighing fat people before giving them food stamps (SNAP). Your income is seized, under threat of prosecution, fines and imprisonment, to fund other people making themselves unhealthily fat. Your income is seized, under threat of prosecution, fines and imprisonment to pay for "free" health care required for medical treatments incurred from that obesity. "Your tax dollars go to save the lives of staving orphans" has more appeal when you are actually paying to save the lives of starving orphans and not buy groceries for that lardass blocking the aisle at the grocery on her i-am-to-fat-to-walk scooter with a cartload of donuts and steak, and then pay her medical bills.

Comment Lynch will indict (Score 2, Insightful) 742

"[Assange] doesn't think it will happen under Attorney General Loretta Lynch. "

Obama will not do anything to damage Hillary's chances of winning the election but there will be a limit to how much of a corrupt jackass Obama is willing to make himself look like to help here out. We already know, based on evidence released publicly, that Hillary is guilty and a crazy liar, so if Obama's justice department does not indict he goes down in history as the U.S. President more corrupt than Nixon.

A prediction: Obama has Lynch slow-walk the decision to indict until after Hillary is elected in November 2016, they they indict her. After Hillary takes office in January 2017, she pardons herself.

Comment P.T. Barnum in a Steve Jobs Turtleneck (Score 1) 65

Now, finally, the fraud of Elizabeth Holmes will be revealed. She can deny all she likes but she has known about this from the beginning.

Someone recently called her "P.T. Barnum in a Steve Jobs Turtleneck," but that comparison is unfair to Barnum. Barnum promoted a product which is legitimately intangible: entertainment. Holmes is also promoting something intangible, but which actually needs to exist and work to have value: blood tests.

Comment vs. OS X Dashboard (Score 2) 48

I am back to developing on Linux after a long stint on OS X and one thing I really miss now is the OS X Dashboard widgets.

Ubuntu is way behind OS X here, even if they integrated a Dashboard clone the ecosystem of widgets would be far behind and never catch up. But Ubuntu could leapfrog the OS X Dashboard by absorbing Chrome's support for Android widgets into an integrated Dashboard clone.

Comment Jerry Ehman (Score 4, Interesting) 96

When I was about 7 years old Jerry Ehman rode down to Kentucky with us in the family station wagon from Powell, Ohio to Kentucky to go spelunking. We lived a few houses down the street from the assistant director of the Big Ear radio observatory who organized the trip and who invited along coworkers and friends. All the radio observatory guys on the trip were full-time radio geeks, including Jerry, who brought his own CB radio on the trip and installed it in our car before we left. This was so we could keep in touch with the other vehicles on the drive down. Jerry had temporarily disconnected our am/fm car radio antenna to wire in his CB. So he is explaining this to me as my father drives down the highway to Kentucky. Being 7, of course I asked "but what if we want to listen to the radio?". Jerry, who was riding in the center of the front bench seat of the station wagon, replies that he can switch back and forth between them. Then he immediately inverts himself in the car seat with his feet up in the air and his head pushed up under the dashboard holding a handful of tools. A few minutes later the car radio is working again.

By the way, the radio observatory at which Jerry recorded the Wow! signal no longer exits. It was a joint project between Ohio State and Ohio Wesleyan universities. It was constructed and managed by the Ohio State University but located on land owned by Ohio Wesleyan University which sold it to developers to build a golf source. There was an international effort to preserve it, Nobel price winners and other notables campaigned for it. Wesleyan believed that a golf course was much more important than SETI. "Ignorant small-town hicks" would not go far enough to describe that school.

Comment Indisious MegaBloks (Score 4, Informative) 165

MegaBloks makes generic bricks that are nominally compatible with LEGO bricks. But in practice, they are built to lower quality standards and tend to attach much more poorly. As small number of MegaBloks in a collection of LEGO bricks can cause a lot of havoc and result in LEGO models that keep falling apart.

Yes, and even worse, in my experience, MegaBloks are dimensionally unstable over a decade or less, Legos are stable for at least 4 decades.

About 10 years ago I gave my nephews a set of MegaBloks and patted myself on the back because I had given an enormous set of "Legos" for so cheap. When new, they worked just as well as Legos. My nephews have long-since outgrown those MegaBloks but my own kids were visiting recently and we dragged them out. They do not stay together at all now.

I still have the real Legos which I had as a kid in the 1970's, and they hold together just like new.

So you might think you are getting a deal with MegaBloks, but not so much, if you plan on them lasting.

Comment Backroom Deals (Score 2) 143

from the ./ summary:

the Obama administration canceled amid strong local and state opposition to it.

from the Wall Street Journal:

The Reid-Obama Bargain: Harry shut down the Senate because Barack shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada... Mr. Reid’s admirers seem to think Mr. Reid is their champion, but the reason he has carried so much water for Mr. Obama isn’t liberal ideals. It’s the result of a crude political bargain in which Mr. Reid agreed to do the President’s dirty work on Capitol Hill if Mr. Obama blocked the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Comment If DHS were not idiots... (Score 4, Insightful) 77

A friend who is an amateur pilot pointed this out to me a few years ago: There is a huge surplus of cheap pilot labor because passenger airline pilot jobs require a minimum of 1,200 hours of flight time for certification. All of those would-be passenger airline pilots are trying to accumulate that much flying time on someone else's dime, meaning any flying job where the pilot does not pay for his own aircraft, maintenance and fuel.

Military drones are super expensive and have different requirements than are needed for border patrol, requirements such as long loiter times, capability for long-range missions, extreme stealth to evade sophisticated radar , offensive capabilities, high fuel efficiency, etc. Any conventional aircraft would be just fine for the job of border patrol. If DHS hired pilots to fly conventional aircraft retrofitted with cameras instead of purchasing and maintaining state-of-the art military drones they would save an enormous amount, get far greater coverage, and help out all those pilots looking for flight hours.


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