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In my opinion the number one reason to do this is to decouple the idea of physical value from points. You don't have $3.40 in your XBL wallet, you have 85 points, and when you spend those 85 points to buy some pretty pixels on your screen you're not thinking about the fact that it was once $3.40. The second reason is exactly so they DON'T have to do what you're saying-- have fractional portions of a customer's unspent money laying around. If you still have $3.40 in your account at some point and you stop playing XBL, you're going to try to finagle a refund. When you have 85 Points it's easier for you to let go, because you're already been separated from the idea of it having physical value. The third big reason is that it allows a microtransaction model without paying tons of credit car processing fees. They'd rather sell you 1000 points up front even if you only spend them 100 at a time, rather than pay 10 times the processing fees using credit cards up front for every purchase.
I've pretty much ruled out the Kobo because of the difficulty of entering text (which I don't see myself doing very often, but it's plausible), and so I've decided I'm most likely going to be getting a Nook. I'm in Canada. There are no Barnes & Noble stores here, but the device works fine if you don't need 3G support. This means I'm willing to make a 6 hour round trip to buy a device from Amazon's competitor (to skip dealing with high shipping fees and Customs crap) because of one feature that could have easily been added in software updates by now, and which they seem to be totally obstinate in not adding. You don't need a partner program with 11,000 US libraries when you can just add ePub support and, poof, suddenly your device can work with what thousands of libraries are already doing.
I think Amazon is suffering from Not Invented Here syndrome, and if they're not careful they're going to get thrashed in the market they invented. They'll end up like Diamond and Creative, who were early to the MP3 player market right at the time when the demand had bubbled up to that magical point where a device can really take off, but got destroyed because another company did it better.
The major advantages of Amtrak are lack of security and the space. Sadly, for high speed trains, I'm sure the first will be removed, and who knows about the second.
Do you know how much kinetic energy a train has moving at 250mph? What, do you want terrorists hijacking trains and driving them into skyscrapers? Why don't you love America?
Do you like drinking orange juice while it's still fresh? Do you like being able to buy a mango in Boston in December? Then don't fuck with the railroads. I'm in Canada in February and I can get fresh pineapple, and if you fuck with that I WILL CUT YOU.
You don't think the lyric "that little faggot's got his own jet airplane. that little faggot he's a millionaire" might be worthy of censoring? I'm a big Dire Straits fan, but I can see why they don't want that playing at drive time. At least that makes sense. I want to know who turned the radio version of Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" from-- "I'm gonna tie her to the bed and set this house on fire" to "I'm gonna ___ her to the ___ and ___ this ___ on _____".
So I guess what I'm saying is that I've seen both sides of this (having lived in both the US and Canada), and that you can Comcast can kiss my ass. Internet service in Canada already makes the US look like some futuristic technological wonderland, and this was going to set Canadian internet service back by a decade or more. There's already a significant lack of ISP competition up here, and this is a decision that was blatantly aimed at making it impossible for companies like Netflix to compete with Bell and Rogers in-house offerings. For probably 95 percent of Canadians, your phone, your internet, and your television service all come from the same person, and it's very likely one of two or three companies.
I can't help but notice your sig. Guess what? Your dialup plan gets you basically the same thing as 36 dollars will get you from a Canadian *CABLE* provider.