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Comment Re:This is big news, actually (Score 4, Insightful) 570

3)- "I have nothing to hide / you're old if you care"

Response: "I may have nothing to hide, but my personal information is none of your gorram business."

If my information is valuable to you, you need to compensate me for it, if I'm interested in selling it. You have no right to take what is mine.

Comment Re: "weapons... get cash from Congress" (Score 1) 137

Suicide bombers are like viking berserkers and japanese kamakazi pilots. They are the walking, talking embodiment of courage and dedication. The fact that you are their enemy doesn't diminish that in the slightest. Oppose them or not, when you disparage them, you diminish yourself.

It is true that suicide bombers are badass. However, they are fighting for extreme limits on freedom, fighting to take autonomy and power away from the populace and give it to the ultimate nanny state. That's regrettable. In virtually all cases, they are anti-education, anti-science, anti-technology, anti-liberty.

The ones who deserve contempt are the drone pilots. They're walking, talking embodiments of cowardice, deserving of utter contempt.

If combat were purely a dick-waving contest (war is to a certain degree, but I'm talking about actual tactical combat), then this might be true. However, combat is about winning, as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible. Very Art Of War-esque. As such, drone pilots play an important role in force protection, threat identification and threat neutralization. They save our troops' lives and advance the mission. As such, I consider them extremely effective and worthy combatants. They're a manifestation of the West's technological dominance, something suicide bombers and their handlers will never understand or achieve.

Comment Icahn is a corporate raider (Score 3, Insightful) 45

So his stake in Xerox is 9.12%: "Carl Icahn (Trades, Portfolio) increased his shareholding of Xerox XRX +0.00% (NYSE:XRX) in January, a filing revealed Friday as the company announced increased partnership with him and major changes in line with his vision for the company.

Icahn’s funds purchased an additional 5,740,871 during the period from Jan. 4 to Jan. 8, at an average price of $10.05 per share. According to the filing, the purchases brought his total stake in the company to 92,377,043 shares, or 9.12% of its shares outstanding, and a boost of 12.2% from his last disclosure in December.

Icahn’s three selected board members will join a nine-member board of directors for the BPO company. The current board will begin searching for an external candidate for CEO of the BPO company and also allow Icahn to choose a representative to be involved in the search process, Xerox said.
“Happy to announce we reached an agreement with $XRX re: separation into two independent public companies,” Icahn said on Twitter TWTR +0.00% Friday. “We believe the separation will greatly enhance value for $XRX shareholders. I applaud and respect Ursula Burns for doing what she believes shareholders want – as @Donahoe_John did with $Ebay EBAY +0.00% and $PYPL. I hope and believe the results will be just as good for XRX shareholders.”

Icahn’s tweets referred to the division of Paypal (NASDAQ:PYPL) from eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) that he prompted last year and which became complete in July. Since they began trading separately on July 20, eBay’s shares have fallen 18.3% and Paypal Holdings shares have declined 6.7%."

-- Forbes link (sorry folks, but that's where the info was)

Icahn himself says he "reached an agreement" with Xerox. The guy is a famous corporate raider with a significant stake in the company. Whoever said Icahn had nothing to do with it is delusional or lying.

Comment Controlling information is pure power (Score 2) 138

Being able to control the information being fed to the population creates a tremendous of control over that population. Television and radio are loudspeakers into people's homes. And now so is the Internet. Television and radio are very strictly controlled by those that own the airwaves, and a very expensive medium on which to advertise.

Being able to control information on the Internet is a very dear goal to the powers that be, either elected or not-elected. ALL spectrums of politicians want this power, not just the ones you or I disagree with.

Comment Re:BASIC programming skills (Score 1) 214

Here's the cold, unabashed, truth: Programming is easy.

It's easier after one has amassed 20 years of experience. Dealing with the intricacies of syntax, remember what functions require what parameters, the nuances of compilers and interpreters, of threads and mutexes, roll-your-own bit-shifting, reading other people's code and identifying subtle, intermittent bugs may be easy to a rockstar, but to merely highly capable it can produce challenges, especially in large code bases. I've heard elite programmers say they don't know what's going on in a section of code.

Conceptually, at a high level, it's typically easy to describe many if not most programs. But those who think actually programming non-trivial systems is easy I think are not correctly stating the reality.

Comment The Best Way To Rob A Bank Is To Own One (Score 1) 131

William K. Black wrote a book with that title.

This is the introduction from his TEDx talk about bank fraud:

"So today's class is on how to rob a bank, and it's clear the general public needs guidance because the average the average bank robbery nets only 7,500 dollars. Rank amateurs who know nothing about how to cook the books. The folks who know run our largest banks, and in our last go-round, they cost us over 11 trillion dollars. They cost us over 10 million jobs as well. So our task is to educate ourselves so we can understand why we have these recurrent intensifying financial crises and how we can prevent them in the future. And the answer to that is that we have to stop epidemics of control fraud. Control fraud is what happens when the people who control, typically a CEO, a seemingly legitimate entity, use it as a weapon to defraud."

Comment Re:Slippery Slope (Score 1) 138

A simple test is.. if a citizen did this to another citizen, would that be against the law?

I'm not sure that's a good test:

1) If one citizen deprives another of his liberty, that's kidnapping. If the government does it, it's incarceration.

2) If one citizen forcibly takes money from another, that's robbery. If the government does it, it's a fine.

3) If one citizen kills another, that's murder. If the government does it, it's capital punishment.

Why does this curious dichotomy exist? Because we elect people who will maintain law and order, to promote justice and all the other stuff in the preamble to the Constitution. Sometimes they have to apply force sometimes to achieve these ends because there are people willing to apply force to do evil, like robbery, kidnapping and murder.

Comment Re:Because the mass of people are (Score 1) 490

And don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to disparage the backbone of the country. Does the average person work hard, feel pain, love deeply? Yes, that seems to me to be the reality. Are there brilliant sociopaths? Martin Shrkreli and other Wall Street titans come to mind. So yes, of course.

But, regarding making the best decisions on complex laws, electing representatives whose primary job it is to determine that seems the best system, as long as that system is not systemically undermined or corrupted.

Comment Because the mass of people are (Score 1) 490

Because the mass of people are easily manipulated and poorly informed.

Having representatives do our bidding does create more of a "single point of failure" system. But if the representatives are not actively working to undermine our interests (which in the current system is completely unclear), then it becomes their full time job to examine legislation for its costs and benefits, and to act in ways beneficial to those who elected them, and to the country.

Currently due to the influence of money, our representatives are more like university development officers than legislators. That has to be addressed. But direct democracy, with the average IQ of 100, is probably not the cure.

Our government system currently has a sickness. Leeches or cocaine are not the cure, nor is decapitation. Legislators will always be self-interested, as they are leaders in the human species. Figuring out how to re-focus their interests and the interests of their constituents in spite of sophisticated advertising and the promise of cushy sinecures is probably the best path forward.

Comment Re:Gotta understand the decision-making process (Score 1) 365

Politicians write these rules - they are legislators. Here is a a history of the tax inversion.

"About 51 U.S. companies have reincorporated in low-tax countries since 1982, including 20 since 2012. A lot of drug companies are doing it, and low-tax Ireland is a popular corporate home. They’re doing it despite a 2004 law that legislators had promised would end the practice, despite rule-tightening by the Obama administration to limit it, and despite two decades of efforts by the Internal Revenue Service to rein it in.

A change of address doesn’t necessarily mean a real move. Companies are free to keep their top executives in the U.S., and most of them do.

Most importantly, perhaps, companies that invert overseas can take advantage of the generous U.S. system of interest deductions for payments to their own affiliates abroad — benefits that are only available with a foreign parent company."

Comment Re:And we still can't import prescription drugs (Score 1) 365

This is pretty bold (not really the right word) of Pfizer to move overseas, considering that they, along with the rest of big Pharma are the ones who lobbied to make it illegal for Americans to import cheaper prescription drugs.

I think the word you're looking for is 'chutzpah'.

Politicians will feign helplessness (look at the issues they're able to reach consensus on, and those they're not). If a bill to change it ever came up, poison pills would be attached to it. A few academics will claim this sort of thing is an inexorable force of nature, and the farce will continue.

Comment Gotta understand the decision-making process (Score 4, Insightful) 365

Gotta understand the decision-making process for politicians:

1) These companies are big donors.

2) 90% percent of the population has no idea about this, and fewer care.

3) Politicians get cash for looking the other way, and it has no impact on their electability.

I started following these kinds of shenanigans prior to the financial crisis. The blame is on the politicians - not for being self interested, but for actually undermining the society for cash and favors from big donors. The vast majority of the voting public doesn't understand this kind of inside baseball. And the incumbency rate hasn't really changed much as a result of these issues. So the boiling of the frog (this society) will continue until we become Brazil or we snap out of the torpor.

"A society cannot be both ignorant and free." -- Lady Gaga

Comment Nothing new (Score 4, Insightful) 100

I remember back in the 90s, when Loral sold US missile and space technology to the Chinese, after spending six to seven figures on key political figures and receiving waivers.

Donors want favors, politicians want money, it's a symbiotic relationship (politicians shake down donors, donors view it as an investment/protection money) which has become more and more overt over the years. It undermines the rule of law of course, and leads to corruption, but as long as politicians keep getting re-elected and donors keep getting what they want, the system will continue.

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