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Comment: Heavy vs. light? (Score 5, Funny) 246

by Obfuscant (#49780643) Attached to: How To Die On Mars

Heavy objects will pick up too much speed during the descent, making for one deep impact. ...

I seem to recall hearing some recent developments in science, some wacko claim by some Italian guy that the acceleration due to gravity was actually independent of the mass of the object. That would indicate that both heavy and light objects would accelerate the same way under the influence of gravity on Mars. What a silly notion, I'm sure the Pope will cure him of his heresy.

Comment: Re:But I love it when slides are read to me (Score 1) 309

by Obfuscant (#49780523) Attached to: Why PowerPoint Should Be Banned

But remember, the Daily Show is comedy, so it's just for entertainment.

Comedy is one of the best tools for delivering political or social commentary, so no, just because it is comedy doesn't mean it is "just for entertainment". I think the fact that the Daily Show was carried on CNN International on a regular basis tells us that it wasn't.

As for the original topic: a poor workman blames his tools. PowerPoint is a tool. You can make good presentations with it, but it takes work. It is easy to make bad presentations if you don't know what a good one is.

Comment: Re:Wouldn't be a problem if they gave right of way (Score 1) 172

by Obfuscant (#49778225) Attached to: Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable

I'm not arguing whether or not some idiot wrote down something stupid on a piece of paper. I'm arguing that it was a stupid thing to put on the paper.

You think that it is stupid that a local government would define the requirements for a cable system operator to be able to obtain a franchise to use the public rights of way. Fine. That's your opinion. But most folks understand, and understood, that cable companies weren't going to do a lot of things unless they were forced to.

Some people had a view that a system that was intended to replace broadcast TV as an information source for the public should have a requirement to "serve the public interest", just like broadcast TV stations are supposed to. That when an emergency hits the city, there should be a place for cable customers to go to get critical local information since they won't be accessing broadcast media, and what broadcast media there was might be from thirty miles away. And that allowing the public a place to have a voice in general would be a good thing for the community -- which is why PEG channels are a typical requirement for cable systems.

Some people realized that a cable company would build out only what it needed and avoid investments in infrastructure. That's why some governments required cable franchisees to upgrade plant as technical standards and methods improved. For example, our city was smart enough to demand a fiber upgrade long before fiber upgrades were standard practice. We ALL benefited from that, just as we all benefit from having a specialist in the city government that we can call when the cable customer service does get really abusive and fraudulent. That specialist exists only because of the franchise you think is "stupid shit".

it is anti competitive, pro monopolist, anti consumer, it is the reason internet speeds are often shit throughout the country and it is the reason many areas have very poor coverage. You know that.

Please don't tell me what I know. It's arrogant and insulting. What I know is that the local government, who is elected by and responsible to, the local people, created the franchise ordinances to deal with issues they knew would be problems with any incoming cable company, and to include things they thought important for their community. That's local government in action. You don't care that they wrote the requirements, you think it's "stupid shit" to demand technical and customer service standards be met (whether the city then enforces that requirement is a different matter -- if it doesn't cost Comcast anything to meet the customer service standards because they don't, then it won't cost any newcomer.)

Why are you defending something that is objectively bad for pretty much everyone and serves no purpose

Because it isn't and wasn't "objectively bad for pretty much everyone" and did serve a purpose. Your opinion doesn't make it "objective". Your opinion is called "subjective".

besides letting well monied companies basically sit on their asses collecting monthly fees for shitty service?

"Shitty service" is a subjective evaluation. And if you can do so much better, or if anyone can, let them try. All they have to do is meet the same minimum standards that their competition has to meet. You seem to think that any newcomer shouldn't have to meet those standards, they should get to decide what service they'll provide and to whom. That's ridiculous.

You also seem to think it is fair to have a piecemeal playing field. It's ok to demand that the original company do a lot of things to get the right to use the rights of way while allowing newcomers to cherry pick the most profitable out from under the incumbent. How about if I gave you access to the entire city for your taxi company but only if you promised to use Mercedes Benz taxis and you had to demonstrate that you were providing service even to the poorest areas of town -- and then I let another company provide taxi service to the neighborhoods where the 1% lived and they only had to make sure their taxis were serviced properly? You're paying a bundle for taxis and maintenance, having to serve areas where most people can't afford a taxi to start with, and the newcomer gets to save on taxis and cherry pick the rich folks who can afford the service? Fair? Really?

That's why franchise ordinances have clauses that require new franchisees to agree to essentially the same conditions that every other franchisee does. I understand you really hate Comcast or TWC or whatever incumbent serves your house, but that's not justification for undercutting them by force of law.

Comment: Re:Wouldn't be a problem if they gave right of way (Score 1) 172

by Obfuscant (#49778017) Attached to: Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable

As to "Do a bunch of stupid shit we made up to lock small companies out of the conduits or we don't let you run cable in the conduits"... no. Those are often not reasonable.

Interesting use of quotation marks. But what you refer to as "stupid shit" is actually the concerns of the public towards what the cable providers are expected to provide in return for access to their right of way. "Stupid shit" things like customer service quality levels, service area coverage, technical standards for installed plant, PEG channels for public and government information paths, wiring for schools and libraries, money for equipment to do PEG, and other things that are in the public interest.

It's pretty clear you've never read a cable franchise ordinance or agreement.

this is sort of like saying you can't open a sandwich shop unless you agree to open ten locations across town.

No, it's like saying that you cannot use the public rights of way in this city unless you serve all the citizens of this city. That's a perfectly reasonable, and in fact responsible, requirement for a cable franchise. Can you imagine the whining if Comcast would hang all their plant and then serve only a three-square block area of a city? I've lost count of the people who complain that Comcast et. al. don't serve a large enough area where they live (service ends 500 feet from their house, etc.) and you think it's acceptable for them not to be required to serve the entire city.

You think the broadband access in the US is bad now, imagine what it would be like had cities allowed the cable companies to cherry pick only the highest density/richest neighborhoods out of a city, instead of being forced to wire the whole thing. And you call that "stupid shit".

As to local government, we don't let local governments screw with roads.

You have got to be kidding. City governments screw with city roads ALL THE TIME. Rip them up, put them back, and tax everyone for the privilege. You have no clue.

You think it is reasonable for local governments to be systematically bribed

I've said no such thing and I tire of your repeated attempts at putting words in my mouth.

Your schools save a hundred dollars a month on their internet bill and the entire town is locked down by the monopoly for fucking chump change.

If you think wiring a school for internet would be a "hundred dollars a month", you really have no clue. And you know what? If you want to start a company to compete with that "monopoly", do it. I'm sure you're smart enough to figure out a way to make money doing it. You can beat the economy, you just don't have to beat the government, because the government didn't grant a monopoly.

Comment: Re:Wouldn't be a problem if they gave right of way (Score 1) 172

by Obfuscant (#49777265) Attached to: Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable

And really, a better way of dealing with that conflict of interest is to have them sell the poles or conduits to a neutral third party with no conflict of interest.

Unfortunately, the companies that have poles in place in the public rights of way do so because they have franchise agreements that require them to provide specific services in return. The ordinances that cover those franchises don't say "selling space on a pole" is a service that deserves a franchise to access the rights of way. And no city in its right mind would give away control of the rights of way so someone could sell an unlimited number of wires to every comer. There's a liability issue just to start with.

Consider roads. What if only one company were allowed to put cars on the road and they would rent you a car to drive on their roads. But you could only drive on their roads if you bought one of their cars. That is basically what is going on with cable these days. That isn't capitalism.

What? So, a company has a fiber and you can't "drive your car" on their fiber unless you are a customer of that company. That seems pretty reasonable to me. That seems like a natural expression of capitalism. Someone provides a service and you pay them for that.

We have cable monopolies because of a dysfunction in the market.

We have cable monopolies because of a normal functioning of the market. The first player expended the money for infrastructure and has all the customers. Wanna-bees see that it will cost a lot of money to try to split a limited customer base and that their return on investment will be negative. You can't cut your fixed costs in half just by waving a magic wand, you have to cut the basis of that cost in half. Cheap hardware is a false economy. Cheap labor likewise. And everyone already complains about cheap customer support. None of the program providers are going to cut their fees in half so you can compete with the incumbent and survive -- it would be economic insanity for them.

What do you wind up with? A second company that can't really charge much less than the existing one, which means you split the available customers at best. You might get an initial burst of churn from unhappy customers, but most people will have inertia and avoid changing. The devil you know, e.g.. And those who are mobile enough that find your new service just as bad will change back. (I knew a guy who was so interested in saving money, especially on internet, that he took the introductory offers and always switched away when they ran out. He got the intro offer from the next company, and moved on when that ran out. So, you'd be building a business on a customer who will only buy from you if you give him 50% off!)

Where's the dysfunction? It's the assumption that pixie dust and unicorns can build a working, fabulous cable system and give service away for half what the existing company does. It's the idea that new players in a market should be given the same access the incumbent has so the new player can come cherry pick certain customers, while the incumbent is required by law to provide a larger number of services, and had to agree to that in order to get its access originally.

Comment: Re:Wouldn't be a problem if they gave right of way (Score 1) 172

by Obfuscant (#49777111) Attached to: Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable

No it can't in most cases. Century Link and Google have both been complaining about cities that won't let them run cable.

The franchise ordinances spell out the requirements for any cable franchise agreement. If you try to avoid those requirements, then you aren't operating under that ordinance and have no reasonable expectation to getting access to the public rights of way based on it.

But what you're talking about is an issue of the local government -- people who are elected by and responsible to the local voters. In the vast majority of cases, that won't include you.

your argument is either that century link and google are lying or that they're not competent enough to file this paperwork.

You are putting words in my mouth in an attempt at winning your argument. Sorry, no, I said neither thing. If CL and G are trying to run cable for an ISP-only service then it is a given that they are trying to ignore a large part of the CABLE TELEVISION FRANCHISE ORDINANCE that puts specific performance requirements on any franchisee. The cable companies got their franchises based on a CABLE TELEVISION ordinance, not an ISP ordinance. There is no law stopping CL or Google from being an ISP.

This has been discussed on this site repeatedly. It is basically common knowledge at this point.

The "basic common knowledge" that the incumbent cable company has been granted a government monopoly is like much "common knowledge" -- wrong.

Why will you now feel entitled to be snippy with me when you've been putting me through that?

Why would I be "snippy" with you for trying to misstate my argument (or put words in my mouth)? And you blame me for forcing you to do it? I haven't been "snippy", so you lose all around.

In any case, since your information is horribly off

I'll assume then that you have no examples of exclusive franchise agreements for cable and are unhappy that your "common knowledge" didn't turn out to be right.

Comment: Re:Wouldn't be a problem if they gave right of way (Score 1) 172

by Obfuscant (#49776123) Attached to: Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable

... to cable conduits and poles. So other companies could lay cable.

Rights of way can be obtained by going through the franchise process. If you have a specific city in mind, go look up the franchising ordinance to see what the requirements are.

Once you have access, where do you get the money to run your cable, and how do you pay back the people who loaned you that money when you can't cover your fixed costs with the limited subscriber base you have? That's your limiting factor.

Oh, and be prepared for a legal battle if you want to skip some of the requirements. Not from the city, but from the incumbent who didn't get to skip them.

Comment: Re:well that was sudden (Score 1) 172

by Obfuscant (#49776049) Attached to: Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable

Competition in government granted monopolies (ahem "Franchise Agreements"). Good one!

Non-exclusive franchises are not "government-granted monopolies." I have yet to see an exclusive franchise, and I've asked people to point me to one. Every one that I've been told was exclusive turned out to be non-exclusive when you look at the actual agreement.

It is a reasonably easy mistake to make. You see one company, you see "franchise", and you assume it is exclusive. But you need to read the fine print to find out the truth.

The monopoly comes from the barrier to entry that is called "infrastructure". It costs a lot of money to build a cable plant, and if the best you can do is half the customers you can't make a profit. Only a stupid company would try, and nobody has ever claimed that cable companies are stupid.

And, of course, there are no government-granted monopolies for ISPs, only the cable companies that have added that service to their existing plant.

Comment: Re:How about this test? (Score 1) 172

by Obfuscant (#49775967) Attached to: Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable

and they usually have exclusive "franchise" agreements with municipalities.

They usually have non-exclusive franchises, but don't compete because it would be economically foolish for any newcomer to try to capture a significant (i.e. profitable) percentage of the market. It is an economically-driven monopoly, not a legislated one.

Comment: Re:E-mail client? (Score 1) 82

by Obfuscant (#49775173) Attached to: Attackers Use Email Spam To Infect Point-of-Sale Terminals

Seems like a nice place for legislature to ask some tech savvy guys to specify what is absolutely needed for a regulation in an area.

I see a regulation that spells out exactly what is required, a third or more of it is patented technology, and it can be bought from any good software vendor. Do you really want the government specifying what software is necessary? (I have some surplus Cover Oregon software for sale, cheap, BTW.)

It is cost of doing business.

The cost of having an easy, convenient credit system is abuse. If you want to be able to call someone up and order stuff using just a few words over the phone, and have it sent where you are and not just where someone can steal it off your front step, then there will be people who can take advantage of that.

Comment: Re:Probably True (Score 2) 163

by Obfuscant (#49754821) Attached to: 'Prisonized' Neighborhoods Make Recidivism More Likely

Provincial inmates are released to the community they came from, while Federal inmates are paroled to a different community.

That seems like common sense. You and your pals take up a life of crime. You get released back into the same neighborhood where all your pals still live/are released to. It's likely you'll fall into the same bad company. Get put into a community where your pals aren't ready to help you re-offend and you're less likely to re-offend.

Comment: Re:Signals, zoning, and subsidizing transit (Score 1) 826

by Obfuscant (#49754779) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

Even at a red light, the car might want to go right on red, and assumes you're not going to just run through the light, so they pass you.

At a red light, a car turning right on red has the right of way over a bicycle desiring to go straight through on red. It isn't an issue of passing the bike, it's one of turning in front of him. Changing the law so that the red light becomes just a 'yield' for the bike but a stop for the car is a recipe for accidents. And the biker will lose.

I've already talked about the confusion created by existing laws in this regard. Let's not try to make it worse, ok?

I can't believe how many times I've done that to catch a car that thinks "Oh he's going so slow, I'll just sneak ahead of him and turn real quick."

That's an excellent argument against making stop signs and/or red lights into "yield" for bicyclists. That will create the same "I'll just sneak ahead" situation for a bicycle crossing an intersection without stopping.

Comment: Re:Signals, zoning, and subsidizing transit (Score 1) 826

by Obfuscant (#49751433) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

Someone else replied already and explained this, though that seems to have attracted a troll of some sort.

And the explanation was dealt with by countering facts. It is an invalid rationalization that "because I am a safe biker all bikers are just like me and therefore the laws of the road that apply to other vehicles should not apply to us."

Basically, the idea is that people on bikes have better awareness of road conditions

That is an assertion born out neither by observation nor by logic, and "road conditions" are not the only consideration. The road can be clean and dry, but if there's an 18 wheeler already in the intersection those road conditions are pretty irrelevant. A bike rider who is huffing and puffing trying to keep up his speed comes to an intersection with a stop sign. He's too busy trying to catch his breath to be fully aware of the conditions or traffic, and he'll be a prime candidate for confirmation bias and selective judgement. "Oh, I can make it between cross-traffic because the other option is to actually stop at the stop sign, and if I do that I'll lose all my current momentum...."

I see it every (work)day. Bike riders who are so amazingly aware of "road conditions" that they happily ride right through a group of pedestrians crossing that road. They can't seem to identify multiple human-sized objects in the roadway that the law says they must stop for and they would have hit had the peds not moved out of the way, but they can identify other "conditions" that they should stop for? I think that stretches credulity a great deal.

Moreover, it can actually be more dangerous for a bike rider to come to a complete stop.

For the most part, that is not true. The bike rider who ignores the law is acting in a manner that other vehicle operators don't expect. He's playing chicken with the cars that are obeying the laws and who know the rules of right of way.

You can come up will all kinds of hypothetical maybes that create all kinds of hypothetical results, but simple observation of what happens on a regular basis is sufficient to show that special rules for people who follow no rules already is not a good solution, and allowing everyone to act in the same dangerous and hazardous way will only make the problem worse. Creating a situation where two vehicle operators approaching the same intersection on the same road at the same time and the traffic control for one of them says "you must stop" while the traffic control for the other says "go for it" is a recipe for confusion and accidents.

Here's an example from Oregon traffic law of something like this that is already an issue. A driver turning right across a bike lane where the bike rider is going straight must yield to the bike rider. I think that's a reasonable law. However, I have found myself so many times waiting for the bike rider to proceed and he's waiting for me to turn. What's especially fun is when I look at the biker, he looks at me, and we both realize that we are waiting for each other. Then we both go. The other really fun result is that he waves me on and then he goes himself.

Your example of insufficient sight lines making oncoming traffic impossible to see is a problem of the intersection design and set-back rules, not of the stop sign at that intersection. If that issue cannot be solved by improving the view, then perhaps making the other street stop and removing the offending stop sign from the limited view street is the right solution. Telling bike riders that they don't have to stop isn't. If they can't see the oncoming traffic when they stop, then they won't see it when they don't stop, either. "Let's hope they don't get hit by something as they speed across the intersection" isn't a good answer, ever.

Next, it's safer on bike riders to take back roads than it is major arteries.

Stop signs occur in both places, and claiming that most riders find it safer to take back roads (which already have fewer stop signs) so it is ok to let them ignore main road stop signs is just ridiculous.

The neighborhood collector has a lot of stop signs, but if they can treat those as yields then they can take it also without stopping much and be safer due to less overall traffic and slower car speeds.

Collectors are not "back roads". Collectors are called that because they collect traffic on the way to the main roads. That means there is ... traffic. And stop signs are there for everyone's safety, not just the cars.

Finally, not every biker is in tip-top shape. Letting them bike without having to restart from a complete stop as often makes it easier on the biker,

This is the "it is more convenient for me if I don't have to obey the law" argument.

For people who don't give a damn about biker safety, but hate sitting in traffic, this benefit is for you.

Why yes, because forcing traffic to come to a screeching halt because a bike rider has blown through a stop sign and forced other drivers to slam on their brakes to keep from hitting him has absolutely nothing to do with "biker safety", it's all about not wanting to sit in traffic. Here's a clue: when traffic stops because a bike rider treats a stop sign as a yield and ignores other traffic that already has the right of way, it's the fault of the biker, not the fault of other cars. When a car driver has to stop unexpectedly, it creates a hazard to those behind him.

Increasing the number of bike riders who blow through stop signs and telling them they are special and don't have to obey the rules of the road everyone else does while sharing that road, isn't how you increase bicycle safety, it's how you create many more opportunities for bicyclists to get hit by cars, for them to hit pedestrians who are just pesky annoyances to the special people on those bikes.

There is no reason to change the laws, and every reason to start enforcing them, and it has everything to do with the safety of everyone involved.

By the way, labeling those who disagree with you in an argument "trolls" when you cannot make a convincing or accurate argument is pretty insulting. It's a sign of a desire not to have an honest discussion.

Comment: Re:Signals, zoning, and subsidizing transit (Score 1) 826

by Obfuscant (#49747751) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

Actually, the problem as you describe is that bicyclists are treating the signs as though they don't exist.

There is no way to differentiate since the end results are the same. The biker who knows he can make a right hand turn from the adjoining street onto the through street is either ignoring the stop or seeing it as a yield and proceeding without stopping. Yield does not mean "stop", it means "yield the right of way if necessary".

*sigh* That's still nothing compared to being, you know, dead. I'm not much of a physical threat to you.

You keep ignoring the fact that vehicle law is not created just to protect the automobile driver from death by bike accident. It's there to protect YOU, too. And the pedestrians who you are a serious threat to.

... How?

Oh, please. You can't imagine how a bicyclist who runs down a pedestrian could do significant physical harm to them? A twenty MPH piece of steel/carbon fiber/whatever with an attached human mass would just what, bounce off a pedestrian?

I avoid them just like I avoid cars.

You don't get it. What you personally do or don't do is irrelevant. You cannot write laws based on how one person acts, you need to deal with aggregate (that means "as a whole" or "as a group") behavior. You don't get near pedestrians, so obviously any laws that protect pedestrians are not necessary, right?

On the generic tact, I'd think we'd see a lot more injury reports if cyclists were indeed a significant danger to pedestrians.

Or bike/ped accidents have gotten to the newsworthyness of "the sun came up this morning." And more peds don't bother reporting them because by the time the cops could get there the biker is long gone. I've had bikers almost run me over in a crosswalk -- a MARKED crosswalk at a four-way stop intersection, so there is no excuse at all -- and I know that by the time I pull my phone out of my pocket, dial 911, and explain the problem to the dispatcher that bike rider will be one among thousands somewhere in a two mile radius, probably already parking his bike outside the class building.

Well, you'll actually need to prove that the law is effective then, I guess.

You question the fact that when vehicle laws are obeyed the people involved are safer? You don't believe that a bike that stops at a stop sign is both safer to himself and to others? I see this kind of stuff every day. It's common here. I don't know where you live where you don't have pedestrians or crosswalks at stop signs, but that pretty much leaves you without much data to provide concerning the issues.

Having the cops enforce being not stupid for a bit might be more effective than trying to keep pushing 'stop means stop!

You must be kidding. Cops aren't supposed to enforce the actual laws, they're supposed to decide what is stupid and write tickets for that? Wow.

I've already told you I'm not going into the intersection if I'm at risk of you running me over.

And I've told you that there are uncounted numbers of them in this city that will do exactly that, and that what you personally do is irrelevant when writing traffic law. I don't intend on killing anyone today, should there be no laws against murder? You don't intend on entering an intersection even when you have the right of way if there's any risk of being run over, so let's do away with stop signs that, when obeyed, solve the problem.

I'm sorry that you only remember the idiots, but I can't do anything about them.

You can stop arguing that the existing laws shouldn't apply to them. That's a start. I remember the idiots because they are both so common and do memorably stupid things.

Like I said, I'd love it if stop signs didn't apply to me in a car, either. I don't intend on running anyone over, and I don't intend on hitting someone else. Let's get rid of all stop signs, ok?

Hackers are just a migratory lifeform with a tropism for computers.