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Comment: Re:Back to One Man, One Vote (Score 1) 774

by Bob9113 (#46767059) Attached to: Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

What we need to do is simple: We need to define, in simple print, that corporate fictions are not in fact citizens, and as such, do not have political freedoms or civil rights as such.

It's good, and I think you are right that (by hook or by crook) it must happen or decline is inevitable. I think, though, that we must also define that compulsory speech is not free speech. That free speech is the freedom to express yourself, not the right to pay others on the condition that they express your views -- ie: advertising is not free speech.

Comment: Conditional Public Education Funding (Score 2, Interesting) 673

by Bob9113 (#46713341) Attached to: Google: Teach Girls Coding, Get $2,500; Teach Boys, Get $0

I think the problem can be more generally stated: Private interests should not be permitted to make conditional donations to public education. The RIAA should not be allowed to pay for copyright enforcement education, Coca Cola should not be allowed to pay to have exclusive vending machine rights, and Microsoft should not be allowed to pay on condition of an MS Office mandate. The mere fact that we can all agree that more women in STEM would be a good thing does not make it right for a private interest to exert influence on the public education system.

If Google believes corporations should give more for public education funding, it should be lobbying for increased corporate taxation, and better regulation of offshore-based tax fraud. If they want to be seen as individually generous, they should make unconditional grants. Allowing them to buy control of public services is a path to ruin.

Comment: Opportunity For Agreement (Score 1, Insightful) 322

by Bob9113 (#46706189) Attached to: LA Police Officers Suspected of Tampering With Their Monitoring Systems

These law enforcement officers are experiencing the same thing we have been in the wake of the NSA documents. Being watched all the time is wrong even if you are doing nothing wrong.

Anti-authoritarians think people should not be watched all the time, even though it would mean catching a few extra criminals. Law and order advocates think police should not be watched all the time, even though it would mean catching a few extra officers who abuse their position. If we believe that people intrinsically want to do good, the truth is they are both right.

The premise of the United States experiment is that people can and should be trusted to do good most of the time -- despite the real risk and cost of doing so -- and should only be watched when it is justified. Merely being a police officer does not mean you are suspected of being a dirty cop. Merely being a person with one or another political viewpoint does not mean you are suspected of being a terrorist. Merely being a person from a certain socioeconomic class does not mean you are supected of committing a crime.

In America, we presume innocence. That is not just a standard of the justice process, it means we trust our citizens -- whether acting as individuals, political activists, or police officers -- to do good. We believe in our citizens even when we are on opposite sides of a fence, and we know they believe in our society even when their expression of that belief differs from ours. When we have reasonable suspicion that they have violated that trust, we investigate them -- but not before.

Comment: What To Do? (Score 4, Insightful) 132

Russian investment firms may be looking to steal high-tech intelligence from Boston-area companies to give to their country's military.

Oh, my. That does sound serious. Whatever can we do? Oh, I know, perhaps we should work to harden information security so that companies can maintain the integrity of their research. Futhermore, though I'm sure this goes without saying, we should fire -- and ban from any future participation in any aspect of government, government contracts, lobbying, or information security -- any person who has been involved in the intentional weakening of information security standards.

Comment: Key Questions (Score 1) 1746

by Bob9113 (#46653811) Attached to: Brendan Eich Steps Down As Mozilla CEO

This story has been a good opportunity to challenge my own assumptions. Some of the key questions I asked myself:
* Should Mozilla have a CEO who gave $1000 to support prop 8?
* Would it have been sufficient for him to renounce his support of the law?
* Would he also have to announce his support for same sex marriage?
* Would it be different if the campaign were to outlaw interracial couples?

Comment: Like Supporting Segregation in the 1950s (Score 2, Insightful) 824

by Bob9113 (#46597217) Attached to: Some Mozilla Employees Demand New CEO Step Down

Should private beliefs be enough to prevent someone from heading a project they helped found?

No, but he didn't keep his beliefs private, he tried to turn them into law. And that still doesn't mean he can't head the project, it just means a lot of people may walk away from it, and needs to consider that.

Is the backlash itself justified? Well, to some, including myself, it is a bit like supporting segregation in the 1950s. Right now, it is a mainstream political view to believe that gay people should not have equal rights. There's a hundred thousand years of evolution behind that belief, and it is not realistic to expect everyone to switch that internal belief off at the drop of a hat -- no more than it was possible for people in the 1950s to instantly accept equal treatment of black people.

But what good people did do in the 1950s was stop expressing their prejudice. They stopped supporting segregation, and stopped saying that they found it to be an acceptable practice. Most of them still had that deep internal programming. Most people still have it to some extent today. Hundreds of thousands of years of "different looking means dangerous" genetic programming isn't going to go away overnight. But we have reached a point where we treat those beliefs as flawed baser instincts, like the desire to hit a person over the head and steal their BMW. We repress those feelings because we believe in being better than that.

We have reached a point in our society where prejudicial treatment of black people is no longer accepted. We will reach that point with gay people too, and Mozilla will be as embarrassed of having an unrepentant bigot for a CEO as Walt Disney Corp is of Walt's anti-Semitism. It is not that Mozilla should be forbidden from doing so, it is just a question of showing good judgment.

Mozilla, tell Eich to figure it out and recant his position. It's OK to be unable to overcome your baser instincts; that is a reality of being a flawed human. I'll admit that my instinctive reaction to the idea of gay sex is not pleasant. But it is not OK to express prejudicial beliefs or to support prejudicial laws.

Comment: Re:Open Source Is About Decentralization (Score 1) 155

by Bob9113 (#46587937) Attached to: Canonical's Troubles With the Free Software Community

What is the purpose of benevolent dictators for life then? (Torvalds/Stallman/ blender/drupal/mullenweg etc.)

To continue to curate the projects and organizations they founded, for as long as the community continues to trust them to do so. Sort of like Shuttleworth directing his distro, if his position were dependent on grassroots support instead of a corporate charter.

Comment: Open Source Is About Decentralization (Score 5, Insightful) 155

by Bob9113 (#46584671) Attached to: Canonical's Troubles With the Free Software Community

'... probably the most important single reason for the reservations about Ubuntu is its frequent attempts to assume the leadership of free software ... [S]ome of those who opposed it, like Aaron Seigo, have re-emerged as critics of Mir â" another indication that personal differences are as important as the issues under discussion.'

Seeing the same critics reappear does not necessarily mean it is a personal difference. It really only indicates that the underlying disagreement remains. Mark Shuttleworth believes in centralization of authority, Open Source is implicitly about decentralization of authority. That is a difference with Mark Shuttleworth's world view; as long as he holds it, and particularly when he tries to be the central authority, he will not fit in the Open Source world. That is not personal in the sense of holding a grudge, but it won't change unless Mark genuinely embraces the decentralized nature of this method of software development.

Comment: Re:At last (Score 1) 273

by Bob9113 (#46580297) Attached to: IRS: Bitcoin Is Property, Not Currency

Some would suggest that their is a very good moral argument to be made by practicing agorism when more than half of federal tax dollars support activities many do not agree with.

I do not disagree with that statement, but I strenuously disagree that more than a very small percentage of people who have studied public finance would say that more than half of an average federal dollar is wasted. If military adventurism(*) is your major objection, then bear in mind that total military spending, budgeted plus war, is about 25% of each federal dollar. Of that money, less than half is war spending. So even if you say every single penny of that war spending is bad, that still leaves about 89% of every federal dollar that has not been determined to be bad. Suppose you cut our budgeted military spending to the smallest %age of GDP of any industrialized nation; that would still leave about 82% of every federal dollar that has not been determined to be bad.

Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act and Social Security combined make up about 60% of the budget. And even an extremely dim view of that spending would put more than 80% of it going right back into the economy. I'm not saying that's good, because it's not. Wasting 20% (if you were such a pessimist as to accept that figure) of every dollar would be horrible. So that scenario cuts that 60% down to 48%, or a loss of 12% from the federal dollar.

Let's re-integrate those figures and see what's left. We lost 11% of every federal dollar because we hypothesized that the Middle East operations were a total loss -- not just wrong on balance, but a total loss. We lost another 12% from inefficiency in Social Security, ACA, and Medi*. We tossed out another 7% assuming that our budgeted military should be cut from the largest in the world to the smallest per GDP of any industrialized nation. That's 30% wasted out of every federal dollar, worst case scenario, so far.

But there's a problem. We reached that 30% waste figure by paring down 85% of federal spending. SS is 25%, health care is 35%, budgeted plus war military is 25%. That only leaves 15%. So now let's assume that every highway, the post office, everything the FBI does, the DEA, the CIA, border patrol, air traffic control, NASA, and everything else that the federal government does is a total loss -- nothing redeeming whatsoever. That brings the total waste up to 45%.

And I think you'd be hard pressed to find an economist who would accept *any* of the above figures as being a reasonable estimate of waste. Realistically, it's hard to waste 50% of a dollar without diong something completely irredeemable like building palaces. And even that, the contractors would be rolling a lot of that cash back into the economy. It's easy to waste 5%, or even 10%. 50%, though, is virtually impossible without a concerted effort.

So, if you think things are bad enough that the government should be overthrown, go for it. Begin advocating for the overthrow of the government. Or if you really think the US is irredeemable, leave. There are plenty of places on this planet that are better by many measures. But staying here, and quietly trying to get out of paying your taxes, telling yourself that you are taking a principled stand because 51% of your tax dollar is wasted, is bullshit.

* Side note: Adventurism is a pejorative referring to politics or activism that involves reckless or irresponsible behavior or conduct pursued only in the interest of excitement. Adventurism is often used as a criticism against some government's policies. Countries pursuing foreign wars of dubious merit or which have little chance of success have often been accused of adventurism by opponents.

Comment: Re:At last (Score 1) 273

by Bob9113 (#46578385) Attached to: IRS: Bitcoin Is Property, Not Currency

I'm sure you sleep well at night knowing that you have cheap gasoline for your auto. Who cares what harm this "adventurism" causes to the region or whether it is morally wrong.

Perhaps you missed the part where I said, "I don't like the heavy-handed..." (or perhaps you took my lack of expletives to mean I don't mean "heavy handed" in a strong enough sense, but I can't be responsible for your misinterpretation)

You should be less critical of people who actually want to *do something* about overreaching federal control rather than just being "critical" or "distrustful" and doing nothing.

Perhaps you missed the part where I said, "...and to work for improvement..."

If you find yourself reacting so emotionally that you fail to read the post to which you are responding, it may be time to step back, take a deep breath, and get a grip. Or seek help.

Comment: Re:At last (Score 1) 273

by Bob9113 (#46577429) Attached to: IRS: Bitcoin Is Property, Not Currency

Considering what they blow our tax money on, I can't really see the "common good".

Not sure if you're just being playfully facetious or if you've actually been drinking the silly-juice. Just in case it's the latter, keep in mind that while there is a lot of inefficiency in government, the vast majority of it is still net positive. I don't like the heavy-handed Middle East adventurism, but it does get us cheap oil by keeping OPEC in check. I don't like our unsustainable social security policy, but it gets rolled back into the economy in relatively efficient spending. I don't like the lackadaisical work ethic of some road crew members or crony corporation asphalt price gouging, but our highway system enables trade and labor mobility that makes all our lives better.

It is a good thing to be critical of wastefulness in government, to treat our policies with a certain degree of distrust, and to work for improvement in government accountability. But to conflate that with the notion that tax evasion might be pro-social is sheer lunacy. Failing to pay our bills would be vastly more destructive than paying bills that are somewhat inefficient. People and corporations that shirk their duty to help shoulder the load are despicable.

Comment: Transaction Fees Change (Score 4, Insightful) 301

by Bob9113 (#46570697) Attached to: Researchers Find Problems With Rules of Bitcoin

Such changes could be difficult to implement, given the fact Bitcoin - by design - lacks any central authority." The main problem discovered is that transaction fees do not provide enough incentive to continue operating as "miner" after there are no more bitcoins left to be mined.

I'm not sure that is an accurate reflection of the research, but if it is, it is not very good research. Transaction fees can change, and have changed. The minimum transaction fee changed from 0.0005 BTC to 0.0001 BTC during the runup to $1100, to keep transaction fees low enough for small transactions. There is a central organization, The Bitcoin Foundation, whose authority is explicitly derived from consent of the governed; the miners and users choose to update their software to match recommendations by The Bitcoin Foundation.

If that summary is an accurate reflection of the research, it sounds like they don't really know much about how Bitcoin works. I mean, I know that much, and I've only spent a few hours reading about it.

Comment: Tiny "Exchange" (Score 5, Informative) 357

by Bob9113 (#46561169) Attached to: Cryptocurrency Exchange Vircurex To Freeze Customer Accounts

Vicurex is tiny. They only did US$30,822 of business in the past 30 days. The corner pawnbroker is probably a bigger business. The corner gas station definitely is.

Bitcoin may be a future currency (though I doubt it is The Future of Currency). It may be a very bad high risk investment (though calling it a Ponzi scheme would be giving the players far too much credit). Whichever it is, or wherever in between, it is no more or less what it was in the (nearly imperceptible) wake of Vicurex's failure.

Comment: Re:Dicks Getting Punched Not New (Score 1) 363

by Bob9113 (#46561061) Attached to: Google Tries To Defuse Glass "Myths"

Society just hasn't adjusted to the total absence of privacy yet. They will - there is little choice in the matter.

Of course we have a choice in the matter. Long ago we decided that the Post Office could not look in your mail, and we have held them to that for over a century. We extended similar prohibitions to UPS, FedEx, and the voice carriers, and we have held them to it for decades.

It is neither reasonable nor inevitable for us to give up our privacy just because they are infringing it in a new way. Your meek acceptance of their imposition is the only thing allowing them to move forward.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain