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Comment: Re:Taxes? (Score 2) 219

You would think so, and you'd be right. Except that politicians beg (or rather: insist) to differ. Same here in NL, downloading was made illegal but the taxes remained in place. Over here they even renamed it to the "home copy levy". There's a levy on all storage media (hard disks, blank DVDs), which is for "compensating authors and artists for copies made of music and movies from legal sources for private use". And since downloading stuff from the internet is now illegal, this means that this fee is levied solely on CDs and DVDs that you already own. Fuckers.

Comment: Re:Gas tax? (Score 1) 822

by JaredOfEuropa (#49736833) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax
We're doing poorly even by European standards:
* €1.70 / l (about $7.20 / gallon)
* About €800 - €1200 in road tax per year (regardless of milage, and this is per vehicle; we own several. There are some special exemptions for old-timers though)
* VAT (21%) + a special car "CO2" tax on purchase of new cars. For some cars, the VAT + CO2 tax exceeds the factory price of the car.

We may be a small and densely populated country, but as one clever blogger remarked: "We do not have too many cars in this country, but too many people who hate them". That's also reflected in the fact that our roads, though generally in good condition, take ages to build. Between planning a road and the ground being broken, there's zoning, environmental impact studies, protests, court cases, etc. One case: a very short extension on one highway that will provide tremendous relief in congestion and pollition around a major city, is oonly now being built after planners decided to go ahead... over 40 *years* ago.

Comment: Re:Government Intrusion (Score 1) 822

by JaredOfEuropa (#49736621) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax
I think we should be able to trust our government with such data under a few conditions:
1) There should be a reasonable balance between the privacy intrusion and the benefits derived thereof
2) Data security and access restrictions to that data should be in line with the sensitivity of that data
3) The data should in principle only be used in ways for which it was collected, with a few limited and explicitly stipulated exceptions (such as law enforcement having access to subsets of the data with a court order). And always: not compelled by law to share means *forbidden* to share, no data may ever be volunteered.
4) Data retention should not be longer than needed for the purpose for which the data was collected.
5) There must be appropriate oversight to enforce these rules, with trustworthy audits and real consequences for those responsible in case of transgressions.

In many cases I do not in principle have issues with the goverment obtaining certain private data about me. However, in almost all cases, the reasonable conditions listed above are not met. In most cases, *none* of them are met.

In any case, you ought to be happy that your government at least set some limits on how and when this data can be used. When my country's government proposed a similar road pricing scheme, privacy was not addressed at all, on the contrary. No limits, any government agency would be allowed to use the data, and retention was pretty much forever. Politicians were already floating some alternative uses for the data: the police could use it to track suspicious movement, and the tax office could use it to catch fraudsters (such as catching people making private use of a company car and not declaring the milage, the way they recently did by requesting and receiving data from pay-by-smartphone parking providers). If our government sees no issue in buying data that was stolen from Swiss banks in order to catch undeclared offshore savings, they will certainly not stop short of abusing data they already own.

Comment: Re:"Market-failure" is an anti-Capitalist lie (Score 1) 289

by JaredOfEuropa (#49721831) Attached to: North Carolina Still Wants To Block Municipal Broadband
Only if you follow the "Austrian School" line of thinking, and then it becomes largely a matter of definitions and values. Even the article you link to admits that: "What is objected to here is not that the free market has flaws, but that the term “market failure” is a persuasive definition (see How to Think Straight, para 5.47), seeming to say more than it really does by improperly applying the emotive word failure.". They recognize the phenomenon but object to the chosen label.

Not that I agree with that article. Another quote: "Market failure, if the term is to mean anything useful, must mean that there are fundamental defects in the nature of human ability to achieve certain goods through voluntary, as opposed to coercive, institutions. With this definition, the case for market failure is synonymous with the case for government intervention.". Economists like Friedman argue against this line of thinking, and even many statists recognize that where market failure exists, state intervention isn't always the solution and may make matters worse.

Comment: Re:Obsessed with keeping government out of busines (Score 4, Interesting) 289

by JaredOfEuropa (#49720127) Attached to: North Carolina Still Wants To Block Municipal Broadband
I think that government should not try and compete in a functioning market, but they definitely should have the right (and the inclination) to step in when the market fails. Set a reasonable minimum service, e.g. allow muni broadband if there are less than 3 market players having offered a plan with x Mb/s with an allowance of y GB/month for at most €z/month in the last 12 months or whatever. The incumbent telcos then have a choice to join the 21st century, or compete against the municipality.

Also, if local government is using public funds to run fiber, allow other telcos the use of that fiber at cost. Same as many countries forced the incumbent, formerly state owned telcos to open up part of their infra to newcomers on the market.

Comment: Re:your crap gets in my way (Score 1) 616

by JaredOfEuropa (#49712715) Attached to: Editor-in-Chief of the Next Web: Adblockers Are Immoral
Exactly. For some years we've had a blissful interbellum between two loudness wars, when most site owners thought that simple, mostly static banner ads were fine. And they were fine: easily ignored, quick loading. But things have degenerated quite a bit; that Canvas ad thing is a good example of the next level of "loudness" to catch the viewer's attention.

Back in the days of banner ads, I didn't know anyone who'd go out of their way to block them. Now, adblockers are common and they are increasingly being promoted and used not just to get rid of annoying ads, but also to make browsing a faster and safer experience. Advertisers (and indirectly site owners like Bryant) simply crapped the bed they sleep in.

Comment: Re:Men's Rights morons (Score 2) 769

Men might still be prevalent in positions of power and influence, but there are developments on this issue that worry some people (not all of them men either). Not because man's position of power is threatened, but because in some cases the pendulum swings a bit far the other way. For instance, primary schools (and increasingly high schools as well) are thoroughly feminized institutions these days, and it isn't helping education. Political correctness spurred by feminists gets picked up by mainstream media and politics, and sometimes taken to ridiculous lengths. And I do not doubt that this sort of thing has its influence on Hollywood as well. Bill Maher said it right when claiming that it has become somewhat politically incorrect to be a man.

Without arguing the rights and wrongs of each of these examples, it's not a surprise that a "men's rights" movement has sprung up. And it's also not a surprise that this group apparently mirrors the feminist movement: with some level-headed people bringing real issues to the public's attention, and with some moronic cretins who see social injustice in everything

Comment: Re:Women (Score 1) 190

by JaredOfEuropa (#49710775) Attached to: Arab Mars Probe Planned For 2020
Women in the UAE are allowed to drive, and can dress (more or less) as they would at home. On the other hand, if you (as a woman) get raped, do not report it! Chances are that you'll be charged with "extramarital sex", a serious offence, and with some other charges piled on top like consumption of alcohol in a public area. The UAE is actually quite liberal compared to most other countries in the area, but they aren't quite there yet.

Comment: Re:In defense of the human race (Score 4, Funny) 148

That is just too funny. In the same spirit, I suggest we send up Celine Dion and Justin Bieber on that asteroid buster mission. They won't be of any help when things go wrong, but if the primary mission succeeds, we will not only have won back out world, we will have made it a better place.

"I prefer rogues to imbeciles, because they sometimes take a rest." -- Alexandre Dumas (fils)