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Comment: Everything is an experiment (Score 1) 141

Carl Sagan once commented (can't recall where) on the general aversion people hold toward the government conducting experiments in public policy. He then detailed how every change of law was an experiment of sorts, although often without proper controls.

If Facebook should be required to inform consumers of how they experimentally manipulate them then should Kellogg's reveal the details of how they use marketing to manipulate kids into buying Fruit Loops?

Comment: Sheldon's Solution? (Score 1) 868

by Darwiniac (#47558095) Attached to: Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

I think there was a Big Bang Theory ep where Sheldon tried to solve the "Isreal Problem" or however it is put. Since this is slashdot I wish someone would really explore some possible tech solutions being proposed. I've always wanted someone to put the problem in monetary terms. If it were possible to give every resident of gaza a million dollars to move to another country you could just buy them out. Obviously that is not possible, but there might be a number below that which would buy out enough of the population to be effective.

Not saying money is all that is at play here, but it certainly seems like something a bit more objective than all these fuzzy arguments about human rights or religious mandate.

Comment: Re:A good thing for reducing gun violence? (Score 1) 712

by Darwiniac (#43629679) Attached to: Defense Distributed Has 3D-Printed an Entire Gun

Donating to politicians to tie their product to freedom

Little need when such a right was explicitly codified in 1791.

The interpretation of the 2nd amendment is an entire different topic of discussion, that I do not want to get dragged into, but I think an honest person will admit that it is not entirely clear how to interpret it whether you come from the pro-gun or anti-gun side. On the anti-gun side someone could highlight the issue of what it means to be a "well regulated militia" and also that a strict reading of firearm means whatever a firearm was at the time. On the pro-gun side someone could argue that surface to air missiles should be legal. I don't mean to argue either of these points, just that enough ambiguity exists that there is an incentive for those who profit from guns to spend capital on keeping their product legal. I seem to remember the tobacco industry making constitutional arguments for use of their product as well and I've met more than one smoker that asserts that their right to make others suck down their carcinogens is part of living in a free country. And I generally agree with them that if you were to present the issue to someone living in 1791 they would laugh at the idea of banning smoking in any context.

granted the new buying is happening, but again, I'm not convinced it is done because of any explicit efforts on the part of the gun makers

Ok, so you do believe that the gun industry is the one exception among all other businesses in that they are not making explicit efforts for people to buy their product. I don't know how to respond to that, so we will have to disagree. Regarding the origins of gun lust/interest/fascination I don't dismiss the possibility that guns are intrinsically interesting devices. I play FPS games and I think everyone likes the basic idea of projecting force. But just like when I find the remote out of reach and I momentarily try to use the force to summon it to my hand Skywalker style, I suspect that media might have something to do with my son running around making shooting sounds as he points at things. Now, do I think the gun industry pays everyone who promotes guns, no, not anymore than I think the tobacco industry pays everyone to smoke a cigarette in a film. But where we disagree, apparently, is that I believe that the gun industry, like the tobacco industry, works to influence the culture so that their product is still desired even though, statistically, it's not good for you.

Comment: Re:A good thing for reducing gun violence? (Score 1) 712

by Darwiniac (#43627131) Attached to: Defense Distributed Has 3D-Printed an Entire Gun

You mentioned advertising for cigarettes. When I suspect marketing is at work in promoting the gun culture in our country I would cite the efforts of big tobacco as an analogous example. Donating to politicians to tie their product to freedom. Making sure use of their product is featured in movies. And generally putting money in the right places to maintain a culture that is friendly to a product that is statistically harmful for most people to purchase and use.

Do I believe that big tobacco ever once placed an add telling kids that smoking is cool? No, nothing so blatant. But there is abundant evidence that they worked to promote that message in the culture using far more crafty marketing tactics. Do I think the gun industry is above doing the same? Do you? Does anyone?

Not sure what your point is about owning old guns. I don't see much argument about old guns coming from either camp in the gun debate. The gun industry has little concern if you have old guns as long as you feel compelled to buy those new ones which still represent (in your case at least) 20% of thousands of dollars of potential sales. Promoting a collecting mentality among consumers seems like a smart marketing model for gun manufacturers, baseball card manufacturers, comic book publishers, etc...

Comment: A good thing for reducing gun violence? (Score 0) 712

by Darwiniac (#43626189) Attached to: Defense Distributed Has 3D-Printed an Entire Gun

I'm curious as to whether anyone who really studies gun violence from either the pro or anti-gun side has looked at the possibility that making guns free might eliminate the major driving force behind America's gun obsession- the market.

I personally know several people who have personal arsenals costing thousands of dollars. I don't own any because I know that statistically I'm very unlikely to need one and would rather spend my money on other things. I'm sure they are convinced I am at risk, which technically I am, but I know that it is a far lower risk than having a heart attack and I don't see any of them with a portable defib.

Whenever people make irrational choices en mass I suspect marketing. So what happens when 3d printing is able to make all the signature weapons that are the pride of the various gun manufacturers? No more gun profits means no more gun marketing.

Of course, a good counter-argument might be that the internet has made things like media freely available and the markets have only grown. IDK, do people still pay for porn?

Comment: Re:The ways I wish email was more like snail mail (Score 1) 439

My understanding is that as a quasi-governmental business the USPS is mandated to have a conflict of interest.

If it was just about profitability it would charge more to send letters to BF, Alaska, but it is required by law to provide all citizens equal access to the system. So in that respect it is more of a government service. That's also why they can't raise their stamp rates anytime they like. So it is not my assumption that they are a lean, mean capitalist machine that leads me to conclude their bulk pricing rates are optimized. Rather it is the observation that I don't have a metric butt-ton of junk mail. I get more than I want, but about as much as I would expect given the costs to business to print and mail the stuff.

I don't doubt at all that there are lobbyists trying to move things their way, but I don't think there is that much room to move with respect to bulk mailing prices. I could be wrong, but I don't think I could sustain the interest in an actuarial analysis of average advertising per customer acquisition via bulk mailing blah blah blah... in order to know that I am wrong, but that is really not my main point. I just think the USPS could find an email model for there service that could bring a lot of the pluses of snail mail to email.

Will they? No.

Comment: Re:The ways I wish email was more like snail mail (Score 1) 439

Good point.

Although I suspect that the USPS arrived at those rates because they do optimize their profits by hitting the right price points for bulk mailers. But that does present a conflict of interests- the USPS will want more people sending you stuff if they can charge people to do so and you want them to charge people enough to prevent them from sending you crap.

From the user's perspective the best thing would be to let the user set the cost. Of course, if a user sets a bill of $1000 then they don't get anything and that kills the utility of it being a delivery service.

A fair compromise would be if they hit a price point that results in the same average number of spams arriving as the average number of junk snail mail. The prices would have to be higher per email than postage per junk mail to reflect the savings in paper, but for the USPS I'm sure the overall reduction in delivery costs would put them back in the black.

It would also result in much more relevant, targeted spam that more closely approximates the kind of junk snail mail people get now. But I still probably wouldn't read it.

Comment: The ways I wish email was more like snail mail (Score 1) 439

1. It costs people something to send me crap (deters spam)
2. Certified mail (I can know that someone got it and acknowledged getting it)
3. All the force of law (satisfying legal requirements of official notices, putting official timestamps on documents, etc...)
4. Everyone has an official address

My guess is the USPS could provide those services in a model where revenue from #1&#2 pays for the servers and operating costs of #4. And they justify it by #3

Then provide a way to work with independent third party encryption services and a way to designate favorites who can send me email for free and I might funnel all my email through it.

I'm sure they are reading it anyway.

The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of bean counters. -- Alan Kay

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