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Comment: Re: How is this news for nerds? (Score 1) 1052 1052

by cpt kangarooski (#50004865) Attached to: Supreme Court Ruling Supports Same-Sex Marriage

Sure. Perhaps you've heard of bigamy? Alice can't marry Carol because Bob already has a vested marital interest with Alice. For example, if Alice marries Carol and dies, Carol is entitled to 100% of her assets as spouse. But so is Bob.

That's not the policy rationale for the prohibition on bigamy, and while it is perhaps a little better of a reason than administrative convenience, it boils down to the same thing, since the question of marital property is one of the issues that legislatures will have to address when the ban is overturned as it inevitably will be.

On the contrary, tradition is absolutely relevant as to whether something is a fundamental right. Marriage is a fundamental right because it's enshrined in our traditions and collective conscience. ...
Polygamy does not have such a place in our traditions or collective conscience, and therefore is not a fundamental right.

Yep, that's the bullshit argument that people were rolling out against same sex marriage all right. That because it wasn't traditional, it wasn't fundamental.

The core mistake with that argument, whether in the context of same sex marriage or marriage among persons already married, or in larger numbers than two, is that what's fundamental is not opposite sex marriage, or same sex marriage, or polygamous marriage, but simply marriage, without qualification of any kind.

Issues like gender, race, consanguinity, marital status, and number of spouses are all restrictions on that singular fundamental right. Whether they stand hinges on whether they can be justified. Two of them, it transpires, cannot be. Ultimately I think the only restriction that will hold up will be consent, and perhaps consanguinity will have to be reframed in terms of consent if it's to be salvaged.

Comment: Re: How is this news for nerds? (Score 1) 1052 1052

by cpt kangarooski (#49997065) Attached to: Supreme Court Ruling Supports Same-Sex Marriage

because, as noted earlier, 3>2. Equal protection is an issue where two groups that are equally situated are treated differently. For marriage, there is no difference between a gay couple and a heterosexual couple. There is a difference between a couple and a larger group, however.

The litigant needn't be the entire group. Marriage is a fundamental right, subject to various restrictions, such as consent and consanguinity. Yesterday, one of the restrictions, at least in some places, was that the genders of two of the spouses couldn't be the same. Today, it's fine nationwide if they're the same.

The restriction to look at now is whether the marital status of each spouse in the marriage at hand is single. Today it has to be. But there's not a good reason for it. (As already mentioned, administrative convenience is not a good reason). So why can't Alice, who is married to Bob, now also marry Carol? Bob isn't marrying Carol; the A-C marriage would be between two people only. You're treating Alice differently merely because she is already married.

It's also not a fundamental right, as polygamy is not part of the traditions and collective conscience of society, except for Mormons.

Marriage is a fundamental right and is extremely broad. Restrictions on marriage, such as requiring the spouses to be of opposite genders, or of the same race, or of the same religion, or of compatible castes, etc. are not inherently part of marriage and are certainly not part of the fundamental right of marriage.

Also, today's events make it clear that tradition is irrelevant; polygamy is practiced today among many groups, and has a long history back into antiquity. Same sex marriage was known in the past but was far more rare.

Comment: Re: How is this news for nerds? (Score 1) 1052 1052

by cpt kangarooski (#49996705) Attached to: Supreme Court Ruling Supports Same-Sex Marriage

It will certainly be a massive pain in the ass. But administrative inconvenience is not an adequate justification for denying people their fundamental rights or equal protection of the law. It'll take a while, but just as this took a while, but in time polyamororous marriages will be legally recognized.

Comment: Re:Meh (Score 1) 368 368

I appreciate your reply, though please note that the post you're replying to was incomplete; Slashdot's lousy UI went ahead and posted it while I was in the middle of writing it. For the whole thing (revised slightly) see here: http://entertainment.slashdot....

Anyway, I don't have any qualms with rightsholders complaining about, or refusing to assign or license rights to, businesses that they disagree with. That's their choice. But the music industry is in a bad way right now. Siding with Apple might be a bad choice, but refusing to deal with them might also be a worse one. There probably isn't a good option to choose.

Most people won't buy CDs if they can buy tracks online. Most people won't buy tracks online if they can stream; music purchase is already dying if you look at the numbers. Most people won't pay for streaming if they can stream for free. And most people won't do any of those things if the cost and inconvenience is even moderate, because piracy is free and quite easy also.

(Note also that because an individual's taste in music typically ossify, once they've got a big enough collection, barring format shifts, which don't happen anymore, you basically lose them as a customer. You'd better hope that they stream instead of collecting, and that if they collect, they pay for it instead of pirate it)

Like it or lump it, this is the reality that participants in the music industry need to face. Bitching about Apple isn't going to change it.

Comment: Re:Theft of Intellectual Property (Score 2) 368 368

With all the sound and fury about people "stealing" copyrighted materials, how is Apple getting away with this?

Best as I can tell, EACH Instance should be punishable with thousands of dollars of fines and jail terms for those at Apple who authorize this.

It's not illegal. Apple either has permission from the rightsholders for the music they offer, or a statutory right to offer it, and doesn't offer the music for which they don't have permission or a right.

Comment: Meh (take 2) (Score 1, Interesting) 368 368

Well, looks like /. ate and posted an incomplete post of mine. I guess I won't try writing any posts from my phone in the future, if their UI is going to be this crappy. Let's try again, with a few revisions:

I think she's calling for a bit too much out of Apple.

Apple is a hardware company; any products or services they offer other than hardware are only relevant to them because they think it'll help them sell hardware. Apple also has a justified complex regarding self-sufficiency. More on that presently.

When listening to compressed music on computers began to take off, Apple responded by buying SoundJam MP, modifying it, and releasing it as iTunes. Mostly this was to sell computers -- making sure that people knew that Macs were well-suited to storing, organizing, and playing music files, and could also rip and burn CDs. It was also part of their complex to not rely on third parties to provide important features, and this was now deemed an important feature, with the iPod beginning development shortly after the purchase of SoundJam, and with iTunes to be the syncing software for it.

Releasing a Windows version of iTunes, and selling music via the iTunes Music Store were both just strategies to sell more iPods. Apple figured that some people would buy downloaded music at the 99 cent price point, and that some of them might even be former pirates. The store's label-mandated use of DRM would also help lock customers into the iTunes ecosystem, helping to sell more iPods.

Streaming is just more of the same; because of free streaming, many people who would buy music, or who would pirate music, have flocked to listen to music legally for free (at the expense of having to use bandwidth to stream, not having offline copies, and losing some degree of choice in what you're listening to when. Also, ads). While the iPhone is now more important than the iPod, Apple likes having people locked into the iOS ecosystem. They like having people buy iOS devices, on which music listening is still a core feature (and will continue to be, e.g. with the CarPlay platform). Streaming has become important, and like all important things, it can't be left in the hands of third parties. Therefore Apple must provide music streaming.

But music streaming is a crappy business. Almost all the users stay in free tiers; a mere handful actually pay. Apple's plan is to draw users in with a free time period and then hope for a good attach rate when the time comes for users to either cancel or pay to subscribe. I doubt that Apple will get more than 10 million paying customers (and therefore will only get revenues of around $200 million their first year, and around $300 million in later years after accounting for payments to rightsholders). Frankly, they can find more money than that in their couch cushions. Apple isn't interested in streaming for how profitable it is (read: it really isn't). And I'm sure that they know that in the absence of free streaming, most people will go right on back to pirating music again (with some returning to the iTunes Store, which suits Apple fine).

The whole point of Apple's streaming service therefore is just to keep their hand in, and to prevent a potential rival from being in a position where Apple is so dependent on the rival that the rival has power over Apple.

So can Apple pay rightsholders during the free period? I'm sure they can afford it. Although it makes no economic sense for Apple, as it would cost over $20 million per million free users, and with low attach rates expected, this could easily run over a billion dollars in payouts for a business expected to generate far far less than that. It's frankly not important enough to them to do it. Putting up with Taylor Swift whining at them, and rightsholders loudly complaining that the world is no longer stuck in the 80's and early 90's, is not too big of a cross to bear.

Apple's options other than a free trial period are a free tier, or no free anything. We already know what Swift thinks about the former. The latter is the plan that Tidal is pursuing, plus a higher subscription rate. I don't think it's going to fly. Whether or not it is a legal substitute, piracy is a real substitute, and can't be ignored. If music costs too much to get, people will gladly pirate. Hell, they'll often pirate just for the joy of it. And for a lot of people, any amount of money out of their pockets is too much. Tidal will not be able to reverse the tide of piracy, and asking Apple to follow in its footsteps will neither change the reality of the music industry nor convince Apple to actually do it, given the relative unimportance of legal music for them at this point.

So by all means, she has a right to complain. But I don't see the numbers working out in a way that will put any force behind her complaints. The music industry will have to collapse further, and be rebuilt anew, before it can become viable again, if it ever can.

Regarding Apple's complex about self-sufficiency, it's due to a history of sudden but inevitable betrayal. In 1978, Apple licensed Microsoft BASIC (renamed Applesoft BASIC) because Apple never got around to finishing floating point routines for their own BASIC. The license was for 7 years. The renewal came up in 1985, at a time when Apple still relied on the profits of the Apple II line, all of which had Applesoft BASIC in ROM. Apple hadn't ever gotten around to making a perfectly compatible new BASIC, which meant that MS had them by the short hairs. Luckily, all MS wanted to renew the license was for Apple's BASIC for the Macintosh to get canceled, which it was.

Later, MS again had great power over Apple, because Apple needed MS Office to be available for the Mac, and MS has both used this as a sword and also never quite made it as good as the Windows version. Now Apple has made their own little office suite just to have some alternative available. (It's not quite a substitute, but it's something, especially for casual users)

Then as Netscape collapsed, Apple needed a good web browser, and had to make a deal with MS for IE. The ultimate response for that was for Apple to write their own browser, Safari.

The original (Google-based) Maps program for the iPhone started as just a demo for scrolling, IIRC. It rapidly became an invaluable feature, but Google became a competitor, and withheld new features seen on Android's version of Maps from the iPhone. Therefore Apple had to develop its own Maps program. (And should've seen this coming as early as 2008)

Why did Apple get into the ebooks business? Because Amazon dominates it, and Apple saw that the iPad might make a good ebook reader. Therefore Apple had to have its own alternative option, not to seriously compete, but to make sure that Amazon couldn't kill off the iOS Kindle app, thus harming iPad sales to people who wanted to read ebooks on iPads.

Ginning up a rival to Spotify & co. is just more of the same.

Comment: Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 401 401

by jfengel (#49938689) Attached to: European Court: Websites Are Responsible For Users' Comments

I think you're kinda screwed either way, actually. Words do hurt; you can tell people to just tough it out but it means that you end up conceding large amounts of the political space to the ones most willing to be cruel and least injured by being defamed.

I'm not calling for speech policing here. I'm just pointing out that the real people who participate in political processes are subject to human failings. It's not a logical conversation; it's emotionally charged rhetoric. So just saying "everybody says whatever they want" amounts to a different kind of censorship. It may well be the most unbiased form of censorship and the one that is most "just", but it's not without downsides.

You see it in social media all the time. Trolls can shut down conversations. Web sites that don't want to be primarily about trolls and up providing tools to reduce their visibility, one way or another. It's often called "censorship", and in some senses it is, albeit not government censorship because it's not a state matter. The national conversation is a state matter, and a state may well want to think about what kinds of tools are appropriate for keeping the conversation civil and productive.

Again, not calling for censorship. I haven't got any policy to offer. It's just that I think it's important to recognize that free speech has non-obvious feedback loops that make it less free than it appears.

Comment: Re:Bullshit (Score 1) 401 401

by jfengel (#49932075) Attached to: European Court: Websites Are Responsible For Users' Comments

Is it necessary? Is there any particular reason to compel Estonia to change its laws? If they want to be the-country-that-censors, is there a reason not to let them (and deal with the consequences)?

The consequences could well be serious, and compel them to change their laws on their own. If web sites start fleeing because they don't want to risk what their users might say, the monetary loss might compel a legal change. But for all I know the Estonians themselves are more comfortable living in a country where they are free from offensive opinions. If they can coexist with the rest of Europe that way, maybe they should.

Maybe they can't; perhaps cross-border commerce means that the local law is incompatible with being a functioning part of the EU. But off the top of my head, I don't know of any specific reason why (being only passingly familiar with the rest of EU policy).

Comment: Re:Why Not Ban Fried Food? (Score 2) 851 851

by jfengel (#49923679) Attached to: FDA Bans Trans Fat

It's not as simple as "butter is good for you", but here is a decent link:

I'm not sure what you've been eating instead of butter, but if it's margarine, by all means ditch the stuff and buy a pound of butter. Margarine is full of trans fats (or at least, it used to be), and while most nutrition studies are full of caveats and qualifications, it really is pretty damn near universal that the trans fats are just horrible for you. Margarine makers have been switching away from trans fats for some years, precisely because of this, though this announcement is the final nail in that coffin.

The actual healthiness of butter is still heavily qualified, so we don't really know. The biggest problem, as always, is calories: high-fat foods (deep fried or otherwise) make it really easy to consume more calories than you need. Eaten in moderation, with half an eye on the bottom line (you don't need to count if you have a bias towards mimimizing the junk), you can go ahead and eat pretty much whatever you like, in small amounts.

We still don't really have a good handle on exactly what is "healthy". Many people thrive on a variety of different diets, some of which include fried foods. There is no magic bullet; removing saturated fats didn't turn out to be it. (The history of that is complicated and ugly, involving some really horrific biases and conflicts of interest.) The real consensus is that if you eat a diverse diet with a very large proportion of vegetables and your body will not begrudge you the occasional deep-fried treat. The rest is too murky for specific advice, especially since most people aren't even following that simple plan, so it's hard to optimize further.

Comment: Re:HÃ? (Score 1) 419 419

by jfengel (#49917011) Attached to: Philae's Lost Seven Months Were Completely Unnecessary

I'm not aware of any physical protests. All that I recall were letter-writing campaigns about Cassini.

And none at all about Philiae. The ESA never uses them. I'd have been surprised if they'd included RTGs on Philiae, on which weight was already at a premium. A lot of things had to go wrong for the solar panels to be insufficient, and the space of things going wrong that don't also render the probe inoperable is fairly small. TFA makes its case only in one unsourced quote, and doesn't even begin to take any actual design considerations into account.

Comment: Re:HÃ? (Score 3, Informative) 419 419

by jfengel (#49915561) Attached to: Philae's Lost Seven Months Were Completely Unnecessary

Space probes do get started on earth, and have to go through a somewhat unreliable launch process to get to space. There is a fear that if the rocket were to blow up, radioactive material released into the atmosphere would be dangerous.

It almost certainly wouldn't be. Even in the worst-case scenario, that the RTG vaporized on reentry, it would be heavily dispersed. Still, NASA calculated for a similar case, there could be several thousand deaths (page 66). (Not that you could peg any one death to it, but rather thousands of additional cancers compared to not having an accident with an RTG launch failure.) Plus some land contamination with radioactive dust.

So it's not completely insane to be concerned. They figure your personal odds of dying because of it to be one in a trillion, which most of us would say is too low to think about. But I can understand why a few people might say that even one-in-a-trillion (especially since it's repeated for everybody on the planet) is worth considering. It's not as simple as having it millions of miles away in space.

Comment: Re:"News" for nerds (Score 3, Interesting) 143 143

A lot of hate might be averted by making it clear that it's a review article rather than a news article. This is a news site, and its audience has a large numbers of experts and interested laymen. The assumption is that it's telling us something we don't already know, and the style of the summary is no different from any other Slashdot post. The effect sounds offensive and condescending: "Here's a thing you didn't know!" "Actually, I do, and better than the underlying article."

The article itself is (usually) fine in its original context. It's the appearance on Slashdot that aggravates the Slashdotters. Combined with the fact that people are rather sensitive to spam, and an out-of-place article looks like spam (even if it isn't), which ties into a whole separate set of aggravations.

If they were to present it with a different subtext: "Hey, we're nerds here. This is a topic that many of you know about, but many don't, and it would be interesting to discuss it amongst ourselves. This article is a good starting point." That would start with a different writing style, one that didn't imply that the information was brand new. It wouldn't hurt to add a visual differentiator as well: a different icon, maybe even a different color or shape. And perhaps a way for people to filter it from their streams.

I get that there isn't nearly as much interesting, discussable news as one might think, so Slashdot has to drag in some stuff from wider afield. If they acknowledged that, and adjusted for it, they could make it a positive experience for their audience, rather than a negative one.

Comment: (Score 1) 143 143

Yeah, that was pretty much my response. I read the summary, and was trying to figure out what the actual news was. Then I hovered over the link, found it was medium, and clicked here to get a brief burst of schadenfreude from the people bashing medium. Achievement unlocked.

Loan-department manager: "There isn't any fine print. At these interest rates, we don't need it."