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Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 5, Insightful) 470

I think there's more going on here than just European "socialism" vs. American "capitalism". Demographics, for instance, are wildly different for the US.

Average population and population density for countries 1-15: 34 million and 193/km^2
United States population and population density: 316 million and 34/km^2

Well, that explains why all of our large cities are so well-connected with gigabit fiber for $50/mo, at least.

Oh, wait, they're not are they? The simple fact that Montana exists shouldn't be used to excuse terrible service and pricing in NYC, Houston, Seattle, or any other major US city.

Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 1) 470

That'd be similar to trying to privately build the portion of the road system to get to your front door, then driving a subsidized car over them to help defray the costs.

Infrastructure is one of those things that actually does work better when left to the society as a whole. Service providers, on the other hand, work far better privately in competition with one another over government-secured infrastructure.

Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 1) 470

But the others subsidized the build. We subsidized the service. There's a difference.

Yup. We've made that mistake before, too - running government-funded trains over privately held tracks is ludicrous compared to the alternative, yet that pattern the "compromise" we keep making again and again resulting in nothing more than guaranteed payments from taxpayers to some of the largest corporations in the country.

Comment: Re:Government Intervention (Score 1, Insightful) 470

The natural outcome of any limited "free market" given enough time is a monopoly. This is a case where regulation, while not perfect, greatly improves the overall situation.

Playing the "last mile" game is remarkably difficult and expensive. Without regulation there'd be very little preventing Comcast from just buying everyone out and making it up over time with high rates and crappy service.

Comment: Re:The Dangers of the World (Score 1) 784

by rjstanford (#48932291) Attached to: Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

No. The stats change according to context. So if your the 'free range' parent, your children are much more likely to be abducted.

Any actual evidence of this?

Considering that by far the majority of abductions are done by a family member or well-known acquaintance, you could easily argue the other way too, that being around 20 other kids in a public park is far safer than hanging out in your fenced front yard.

Comment: Re:The Dangers of the World (Score 5, Insightful) 784

by rjstanford (#48830827) Attached to: Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

What happened to your family was terribly unfortunate.

It bears repeating though that it is also terribly unusual - more so now than it was in the '80s. We live in a far, far safer (although not perfect) world today then we did when we were kids by almost every possible measurement.

I'm sure that the independence you got from your paper route and your relative freedom helped to make you the strong person that you are today, even though it wasn't without some small risk.

Comment: Re:It's never been a "real" dictionary (Score 1) 174

by rjstanford (#48811371) Attached to: Authors Alarmed As Oxford Junior Dictionary Drops Nature Words

In what way would the 2-3 word dictionary definition of acorn actually help you, really? Bearing in mind that you wouldn't be able to figure out what that oak nut was if you didn't already know its name, so that doesn't count.

The random online definition from google is "the fruit of the oak, a smooth oval nut in a rough cuplike base." Very useful I guess assuming that you know the word acorn, you don't know what it is, but you do know what an oak tree is.

This is also just the "top 13K" words edition - think of it like a cache rather than long term storage.

Comment: Re:Mmm... (Score 1) 174

by rjstanford (#48811277) Attached to: Authors Alarmed As Oxford Junior Dictionary Drops Nature Words

Really? When I was a kid, I caught minnows (and tadpoles-- are those in there?) and collected acorns. We had a blackberry bush. Seriously, these are rather everyday words in the Western world.

Everyday words that everybody knows would actually be great candidates for removal from a small pocket dictionary. You want moderately common words that not everyone would understand, but where a few word definition is more useful than an encyclopedic explanation.

Comment: Re:Secret Ballot? (Score 1) 480

by rjstanford (#48796739) Attached to: How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

Its simpler than that. Present ID, get a token. Use an electronic voting machine (eliminates multi-language issues, hanging chads, etc) to do two things - generate an electronic record of your vote and fill out a nice human-readable record of your vote. Read the human-readable portion, if you're not happy then you can swap it for another token (it gets shredded and your electronic votes get invalidated). If you are happy then you post it into a one-way slot into a sealed box.

Votes are counted electronically. Some percentage of all polling places have their boxes opened in public and the votes counted by hand; this is then compare to the electronic record to ensure accuracy. In case of a dispute, the human-readable versions win.

95% of the advantages of (in-place) electronic voting, better-than-ever transparency, no abusable audit trail to tie your votes back to you.

Comment: Re:MicroSD card? (Score 2) 325

Turned out USB-only wasn't so nice as advertised. Broken USB drivers? No keyboard. Oh, and the drivers on the Windows CD might be broken. What fun that was figuring out why the keyboard worked in BIOS but not in Windows at install time.

Wow. Sounds like Microsoft released a really shitty implementation of the USB only switch. Why would breaking the USB driver be any more likely (or even possible short of deliberate sabotage) than breaking the PS/2 driver anyway?

Comment: Re:MicroSD card? (Score 1) 325

So, no. The much vaunted "Apple showed their foresight by ditching floppies" was a red herring if everyone needed to rush out and hang an external drive off the USB port anyway.

I'd agree that lots of people did go and get external floppy drives, I knew quite a few of them myself. The vast majority used them rarely, if ever, but wanted the perceived security - and since they were external, most of them ended up in a drawer gathering dust after a little while anyway. Those habits generally lasted far less than the lifetime of that form factor too, which helps everyone else who comes along.

Again, somebody has to be first - and the first major provider to do something always ends up getting slammed by their competitors since spreading FUD is easier than dismissing it and it makes for great checkbox-advertising points.

I'd rather be led to hell than managed to heavan.