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Comment: Re:Sick (Score 1) 247

I grew up as the only conservative in a family of upper middle class liberals. It always infuriated me that poor people were constantly getting free stuff, and I bought in to the whole poor people are lazy mentality.

Similar conservative here. I never really bought into the "poor people are lazy" meme. The hardest worker I've ever met was a poor Mexican who turned out to be an illegal alien. This guy was so dedicated to doing a good job I would've endorsed him for citizenship in an instant. (Likewise I haven't found the lazy, rich fat cat meme to be true either. The vast majority of rich people I know are some of the hardest working people I've met, frequently sleeping only 4-6 hours a night because they're working the other 18-20 hours. It's like they're always firing on all cylinders and don't know how to let up. Even when on vacation, they'll try to sneak off to get some work done.)

What I have noticed though is that poor people tend to make much worse financial decisions, moreso than not-poor people. e.g. A poor friend asked me for help buying a laptop. I knew he didn't have much money, he knew I knew, so I worked my butt off finding him a great deal. I eventually found him a refurb i3 laptop for $235 (when he sold it 2 years later, it was selling on eBay for $265). I felt satisfied that I'd done a good deed to help a poor person. Then the next week I learned that he'd bought a 64GB iPad for $800 (the extra $100 was to have his name engraved on it). ...

They don't need money. What they need is a systematic, comprehensive, plan for how to get them off the bottom. The single biggest factor keeping poor people poor, is the responsibility for children. As noted, often times, a parent finds themselves as the sole caregiver for children, and they are consequently trapped, as the responsibilities of childrearing often conflict with the responsibilities that employers would place upon employees (such as reliable attendance, and schedule flexibility). The simplest solution to the problem would be to do away with welfare and unemployment benefits entirely and replace them with guaranteed services for their dependents such as 50 hours of weekly daycare

That was exactly my conclusion too after managing a hotel with a lot of low-income employees. So many of them were single parents or were in families where both parents worked, that a good chunk of their income went to babysitting or daycare. Since the hotel usually had empty rooms that could be used for babysitting, I looked into what it would take to start up daycare services for our employees.

OMG. The legal liability and insurance requirements were crippling. Apparently parents are a sue-happy bunch when it comes to the tiniest scratch on their little darlings. Later I talked about it with a friend who ran a daycare center and he pretty much confirmed what I'd found. Liability insurance was his biggest expense, and he was always one lawsuit away from being put out of business. Eventually we just made it a policy where we would comp workers an empty room for a day for emergencies. What they did with the room was their business. If they couldn't find a babysitter and wanted to dump their kids in said room in front of a TV while they worked, and they and co-workers would check in on them every 10-15 minutes, we (management) would look the other way.

Comment: Re:Sick (Score 1) 247

It's pretty sad to hear people suggest that sole purpose of a persons time on earth is to work hard and be productive.

Economic activity = sum of (productivity)

Productivity is the fundamental measure of economic output. The more productive the average individual is, the higher the standard of living is (everything produced is also everything consumed). If you're suggesting a person not be as productive as they can, you're advocating that the standard of living be lowered. That's really what all the economic development since the industrial revolution has been about. Leveraging machines and alternate energy sources (i.e. other than human and animal muscle power) to radically increase per-person productivity, which has proportionately increased the standard of living.

If you want to take a break and relax, that's fine. But you'd better be damned sure that your productivity while working is enough to "pay" for that relaxation time. The Germans are great at this (I've worked with them). They work super-hard when they are working and so are very productive. But once they're off work or if they're on vacation, they relax more than most people I've seen. It's ok though because their high productivity while working is more than enough to pay for it.

Money is actually just a (poor) representation of productivity, one whose value in terms of productivity isn't even constant. So thinking about economics in terms of money can result in very misleading conclusions. e.g. If you double everyone's pay, everyone becomes 2x as wealthy, right? Nope. If you double everyone's pay, then prices also double (prices of goods and services are what bring in revenue used to pay people). So in terms of income, it's a wash. Productivity hasn't changed, so fudging with the value of money doesn't change income or expenses. What does change is savings. The doubling of income and prices means the value of anything saved as money is halved. So anyone holding their savings as money (like poor and middle-class people do, instead of in non-monetary assets like real estate or stocks like rich people do) will find their wealth has been halved. Precisely the opposite of what you thought would happen when you doubled wages.

Comment: Re:Ah, Damnit... (Score 1) 484

by Solandri (#49139513) Attached to: Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10

No, it's not obvious. These days the video card takes care of all that. And whether the alpha channel is 0 or 255 the value is going to be read anyway. The performance hit is nil.

Clarification: Most video cards run at 32-bits (4 bytes) per pixel. Because that's a nice round 2^n number which is actually easier for computers to process than the old 24-bits (3 bytes) per pixel.

32-bpp graphics has 256 values (1 byte) for R, G, and B just like 24-bpp graphics. The extra byte in 32-bpp is used to store the alpha channel (transparency). So you're getting it for free anyway, and the video card is using it even with these new "modern" icons (it allows the background to bleed through on parts that are covered by the icon's 32x32 pixel rectangle, but aren't covered by the icon's artwork). Since it's being used anyway, you might as well use it to enhance visibility of borders, edges, and control surfaces.

Comment: Re:While you're at it... (Score 1) 103

by Solandri (#49139331) Attached to: Intel To Rebrand Atom Chips Along Lines of Core Processors
Just to clarify, some of the Pentium and Celeron CPUs are based on Haswell. Some are based on Bay Trail (Atom). As someone who helps recommend low-end laptops to friends and clients trying to get the best deal for a budget, it's become a hassle having to look up every model number of Pentium or Celeron to verify which type it is.

Comment: Re:Is that really a lot? (Score 1) 274

by Solandri (#49139235) Attached to: Drones Cost $28,000 Per Arrest, On Average

Your math is comparing apples to oranges.
Specifically you are comparing the cost to apprehend PLUS all the fixed costs of the agency vs the cost to apprehend with a drone.

That's actually exactly how the drone costs were calculated. They took the cost to operate the drones, then added all the fixed costs of the personnel, equipment, and miscellaneous agency overhead. That inflated the drone costs from $2,468 per hour to $12,255 per hour. It's actually your deportation cost which is missing some of the costs they attributed to the drones.

So OP's math was (inadvertently) in fact apples to apples.

Comment: Re:Wrong kind of drone? (Score 1) 274

by Solandri (#49139147) Attached to: Drones Cost $28,000 Per Arrest, On Average

That's what I was thinking. Equipping every border patrol unit with a commercial version of the ubiquitous quad-copter

For a given payload, rotary-wing aircraft consume about 2-4x as much fuel as fixed-wing aircraft. The quad-copter is actually an even bigger disadvantage since it's got 4 engines vs 1 on the Predator. (Fewer engines = more efficient. It's why airlines have been transitioning to twin-engine airliners.)

Also, if you read some of the linked docs in TFA, the $28,000 per arrest figure is the cost of the drone + personnel + equipment + overhead. The operating cost of just the drones themselves is about 1/5th that ( $2,468 per flight hour vs $12,255 per flight hour). So since the bulk of the cost is in the support personnel and equipment, changing the type of drone won't alter the cost per arrest much. The vast majority of the cost is still agents and their equipment - whether they be flying a Predator, a quad-copter, or have boots on the ground in the desert border.

Comment: Re: Drop your weapon... (Score 1) 318

Doesn't matter. What matters is why the officers understand they've been dispatched to the scene, and what they believe they're seeing when they arrive.

Obviously you're able to tell a real gun from a replica at a distance while someone waving it around, but most people can't, including cops, until they have it in hand, personally. You might be comfortable risking other people's lives by making them assume that all guns are toys until they've been shot at, but people who actually do have, as a feature of their daily job, other people assaulting and trying to kill them, probably wouldn't want you armchairing on their behalf.

The solution? Actual thinking parents not sending their kid out into public to act stupid with a replica gun. To teach a kid that when they see a cop car rolling up, to perhaps consider not looking crazy and waiving said replica gun around. This is a 100% lapse on the part of parents and a completely crappy position for the cops to have been put in. I know that you would be safe, because you would omnipotent and know, from a distance, that the replica gun wasn't real, and that if it was real, the universe's special karma system would protect you from the laws of physics because you are A Better Person Than Cops Are, and bullets wouldn't be able to hurt you.

Comment: Re:Drop your weapon... (Score 2, Insightful) 318

If you're that unable to grasp the difference between the possibility that someone might be carrying a weapon (say, in a violin case), and cops responding to someone's alarmed call about a guy brandishing a gun in public, and having that gun waved at them as they arrive on the scene, then you are completely out of touch with reality. Cops get killed, more often than you seem to know (or perhaps not as often as you'd like?) for misjudging the risk to their lives as they come upon such scenes or make a traffic stop. If you did that all day, every day, and some of your colleagues died doing what you have to do for your job, you might look at it a little differently. You're probably thinking that the police should have just hidden behind their magic bullet-proof cruiser doors like in the movies, right? Yeah. That kid shouldn't be dead. I blame his parents, 100%.

Comment: Re:Oh Sure this will work in the US....eventually (Score 1) 185

by Solandri (#49117529) Attached to: Google Teams Up With 3 Wireless Carriers To Combat Apple Pay

You good people are about 5 years behind the times. WTF happened?

Same thing that happens to all early adopters. Earlier technology becomes entrenched, and it's more difficult for newer, better technology to displace it because the old stuff "mostly works good enough." It's why the ratio of wireless to wired phones is higher in Africa than in Europe.

Comment: Re:This is a joke right? (Score 2) 318

Anyone herd of shrapnel? frag granades ? anti personnel mines ( which are now a days killing kids ) the most strange part is this sentence "could cause more suffering than the regular kind"

The preferred goal of a weapon of war is to wound. A dead enemy soldier just gets left there on the ground. A wounded soldier diverts combat personnel to drag/evac him back from the front lines, then ties up medical staff and incurs care and treatment costs. So a wounded enemy costs the enemy more resources, and is a much more preferable result than a dead enemy not just from a humanitarian perspective, but from a strategic perspective. That's part of the reason why NATO moved to the smaller 5.62mm bullets - being able to kill an enemy with a single shot wasn't one of the primary selection criteria.

So it becomes a balancing act between wounding enough (on average) to incapacitate the enemy to remove him from the immediate battlefield and tie up enemy resources in the short-term, but not wounding enough to severely incapacitate him for the remainder of his life. i.e. Long after the war is over and the previously-enemy combatants now fall under the jurisdiction and care of the victor in the war. Even if the victor uses the vanquished as slaves, capable slaves are preferable to crippled ones.

Exploding bullets makes it nearly impossible to remove all fragments from the body. Shrapnel and frag grenades in contrast fragment before entering in the body, and each piece that embeds in the body tends to have a clear entry wound making it easier to locate and extract. So exploding bullets have a much greater negative impact on wounded soldiers long after the war is over. Likewise, blindness lasts long after the war is over. And land mines continue to explode long after the war is over. That's what it means by "could cause more suffering than the regular kind."

Comment: Re:Microsoft's fault (Score 2) 113

Microsoft needs to grow a pair and lay down the law to any company that wants to be an OEM for their products. Apple wouldn't let the carriers pull this stunt on their phones.

I think Apple prohibiting carriers from doing this sort of stuff is more about keeping competitors under their thumb, not about protecting users. They're not above pulling this crap themselves at their users' expense. They surreptitiously slurped up users' location and wifi SSID data to build their own wifi map (the following year, they dumped the company they'd been paying to lease such a map). You know, the same thing Google got in trouble for because they went to the trouble to try to do it the right way, and had their own employees drive around doing the data gathering (not their Android users), then found out later they'd recorded a lot more than SSID.

Comment: Re:wtf (Score 4, Insightful) 104

by Solandri (#49106527) Attached to: "Exploding Kittens" Blows Up Kickstarter Records
Ah, a fellow rationalist. Wanna know a little secret? There's this whole big secret world out there not governed by strict and unbreakable laws like science. It's based on ephemeral qualities like popularity, beauty, fashion, trendiness, gossip, hearsay, social status, and celebrity. It leads to irrational things like printed cardboard skyrocketing in value because they include the magic word "Pokemon" (and actual laws being passed to prevent anyone other than the "owner" of that word from printing it on other cardboard), or shoes selling for $150 more because they're named after a famous basketball player, or a product selling out because a certain popular TV show host says she likes it, or a semi-popular cartoonist getting lots of people to pay in advance for a game they've never heard of before which doesn't sound all that fun to play. I hear this stuff can even influence whether or not you can land a job, or get a date, if you can believe that!

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 253

If you have your own currency you can print money. That gives you liquidity, at the cost of massive currency devaluation.

Oh dear. First, Greece is on the Euro - they can't print more money.

Second, money is just a representation of value/wealth. It is not value/wealth in and of itself. The true value is productivity. Anything you do to alter the money supply changes nothing if productivity is not altered. All that happens is you just add or subtract a zero to every number used in the accounting books. If your paycheck increases by 10x, but prices also increase by 10x, then nothing has changed. The economy gains no liquidity from printing money.

The one thing printing more currency does is shift wealth away from people who have been saving up (i.e. your savings account at the bank) to the entity printing the money. This is why investors flee to gold in bad economic times - the government cannot print more gold, so its value cannot decline due to this type of wrong-headed fiscal policy. (Note: It could actually be the proper course of action if huge amounts of the country's wealth is being held by a small group of extremely wealthy individuals. But I don't believe that's the case in Greece.)

Same thing happens with debts (which are just a form of deferred savings). Debt repayments don't scale with currency fluctuations, so if you print enough money that your need 10x as much currency to do the same thing as before, then suddenly your debt is 1/10th what it was before in terms of real productivity.

But that's exactly the same thing as defaulting on your debt. Except instead of defaulting on 100% of it, you've defaulted on 90% of it. And that loss of economic credibility (i.e. credit) will make it that much harder for you to convince someone to lend you money in the future, worsening your liquidity crisis.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 3, Informative) 253

A surplus built on the back of borrowed money is not a surplus if you decide not to pay that money back. There's a reason accountants use amortization schedules and depreciate long-term assets. If you want to artificially restrict your analysis to just what the government spends (minus debt repayments) and collects, then you also need to subtract any economic activity generated by purchases made with that money which led to the debt.

In other words, you cannot buy a car with a car loan, get a job which requires the use of the car, then claim you shouldn't have to pay back the loan because you'd be making money if it weren't for those pesky car loan payments. Eliminating the car loan from your calculation also necessitates eliminating the car.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"