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Comment Amazon has gone for obfuscation as business model (Score 1) 259

My family has decided to avoid Amazon as much as possible because they changed their billing system in a manner guaranteed to confuse customers..

First, they do not just ship an order, but ship by some magic optimization algorithms, where they might pick and choose between various of our open orders and ship opportunistically. We do not like that change, but we recognize there is a legit business reason or going that way, so we are okay enough with it..

Second, they do not send you a bill that says "We sent you item A and item B, and we are charging your credit card X and Y". No, they just charge you account. And they send an email "Oh, we just shipped A and C." .

So if you are curious about any of the charges to your account, you must manually correlate (1) your credit card bill and its many entries by date, (2) all your original order that have info on item cost, and (3) the various emails about stuff getting shipped to you. If you have many orders, that can be a 4 hour process. If you want to call Amazon and have a question, the friendly person on the other end will be more confused than you, and you get to spend 2-3 hours on the phone, and they still may not have a clue. So you get to have multiple phone calls..

BTW, it is pretty obvious that Amazon must track "We charged X for item A and shipped it date D" for accounting purposes. But they do not want you to know anything about that. You are supposed to obediently pay whatever they feel like charging your account.

Comment Re:Of the 37 million users (Score 1) 446

I would guess a lot of people realize that a woman who is interested a married man is disproportionately likely to be carrying a lot of emotional baggage, or worse. Yes, there do exist women who are happy fairies who flounce through life bringing joy of the moment to whomever they meet. But that is also the story the very wounded tell themselves. Can you know the difference from text messages or a chat over a few drinks?

Comment Re:Morals? (Score 1) 446

I do not believe the reasons offered. Most likely, it is personal revenge against the company for a perceived slight, and the moralizing is just a clever way to grab headlines and crush this company's IPO in a very public way. Just as the management was anticipating the coming sweet financial success, they will get to have 100 annoying meeting with lawyers on how to put "we are wide open to millions of lawsuits if this stuff is disclosed" on their S-1. It is over. Time to close shop, and open up again with a different management.

Comment Re:How many times? (Score 1) 389

There are stark differences between what a private individual can do for family and friends, and what a business owner can do when serving clientele from the general public. For example, it is not illegal to be a raging racist in one's personal life, but bringing that to your business relationships may have negative legal ramifications -- that is how it is.

Now, it is true that the difference be a private activity and a licensed public business is not 100% clear. But that is not the issue in this case here. The restaurant owner runs a licensed public business.

Comment Re:Mixture (Score 1) 312

Establishing intent in a "beyond a reasonable doubt" argument is usually pretty problematic for the prosecution. Unfortunately for the defense, the prosecution can point to the alleged aid to a future fighter as demonstrating that defendant had a particular intent in one instance. If the jury were to believe this other charge, the defense that helping terrorist was an accidental effect of free speech is just not going to fly. Cutting a plea deal is the obvious choice.

I think that the gov't would have a lot of trouble nailing someone who simply offered advice on how to use cryptocurrencies, if that person otherwise kept their nose clean. Lots of activities that are usually legal or slide under the radar look different under the bright lights of a courtroom, when other credible charges are on the table.

Comment It is called being "judgement proof". (Score 1) 1032

You cannot accumulate assets under you name, because assets can be seized, which means you are destined to die poor once you are retired, unless you have family who will take care of you (or are competent/trusthworthy enough to hold your investments in their name).

You can hold a bank account, but you must keep the balance down where it the dollar figure is less than the hassle of the debt collector to file the paperwork to seize your account. So either you must be very exacting in your bank bookkeeping (it is easy to screw this up), or you give up on credit cards and checks entirely, and stick with cash.

Some of these things you can work around by having helpful unofficial arrangements with a roommate or spouse (e.g. how to get the phone or ISP bill paid).

It is an interesting question on how you are going to get paid, because wages can be garnished. But if you do nothing but contract work or irregularly earn commissions, it becomes very difficult for the debt collector to track down your sources of funds. "Hey, that contract is over. I do not know when I am going to get paid again."

Comment Re:Shouldn't this be obvious? (Score 1) 150

Kudos for actually trying to think through the situation as it might appear in the minds of the students. One of the big advantages that upper middle class students have is that they have easy access to many, many living and breathing examples of why there is likely to be a good payoff to hitting the books. In a very poor neighborhood, a good job that you have seen around the neighborhood might literally be a janitorial job, running a register, mowing lawns for a landscaping contract outfit, or running a quasi legal sandwich cart. Beyond very minimal reading skills, what does school offer, from this point of view?

Is this gap rectifiable? Possibly. But education software does not address the heart of the problem.

Comment Re:You're Talking About a Different Scale (Score 1) 276

Your argument is with the CIA, which simply failed to put forth your purported "facts" to the State Department or White House, within hours or within 24 hours. That is the fact based historical record. I cannot prevent you from pretending otherwise, if you insist. But you are simply, provably wrong. If you care about such things as reality, that is.

Comment Re:You're Talking About a Different Scale (Score 1) 276

Everyone on the US side new within hours (even as it was happening) exactly what had occurred.

The CIA disagrees, and the opinion of the CIA at the time is demonstrated by what they actually included in their summary talking points bulletin. That it was a well planned attack was a completely obvious hypothesis, one among numerous competing hypotheses, that was not substantiated by collaborating facts within the time frame you are talking about.

Comment Re:We're still in the interval of Heroin Pricing.. (Score 1) 94

Big data is also going to make these customers extra sticky. When you have exabytes of customer data sloshing around a thousand AWS servers, and you rely on them to deliver critical insights for competitive advantage, how long does that take to migrate out, even if you have the hardware and software all configured right now? Even if everything is set up perfectly and all the technical wrinkles ironed out, it may be a long and ugly process, because you need the big data analytics to be running at full efficacy every day.

Comment Re:Theory says more efficient utilization, but... (Score 2) 94

Not quite. Theory says that the cloud is compelling when it reduces costs, however that might happen. More efficient use of hardware is a possible means of reducing costs. Putting the management of the physical servers in the hands of people who have superior technical chops for managing servers by the thousands is another. These mega-server farms are surely getting some advantages of scale, too, because the people writing the hardware checks have incentive to deliver value, where up front capital, reliability, and computing power are all carefully monitored factors. The reality is that cloud computing is delivering on some of its promise to reduce costs, thus demand is going up.

Comment Re:Only Two Futures? (Score 1) 609

I find I am getting much more conservative as I get older, and I am voting against the existing Republican Party with ever greater zeal. I live in California, and due to the peculiarities of Prop 13 and tax policy, the GOP shifted towards being the Party of No 20+ years ago, while the state as a whole drifted slightly leftwards. The result is the CA GOP has hollowed out. The state could use a competent loyal opposition party, but we are not going to get one until the old men die off.

Comment Re:Controversial because? (Score 2) 284

Nonsense. CC is silent on the manner of grading teachers. That is simply a choice on the part of the state legislature and local school district. If the state legislature decides to enact a Procrustean regime that squashes the ability for teachers in the trenches to enact amendments to the class curriculum, then that itself is a problem regardless of whether CC is endorsed or not. In fact, we are already on that road, unfortunately, and ditching CC is not going to move us in another direction.

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. -- Norman Douglas