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Comment: Re:Taxi licenses are crazy expensive (Score 1) 330 330

Medallion owners bought the medallions with the understanding that they were buying into a limited monopoly.

Maybe it should be clarified here that when you see someone claim that it's not the government charging $200,000 for a taxi medallion, that's just the going price on the secondary market. You know, good old capitalism, where people are bidding up the price of a __un__necessarily limited commodity.

The taxi authority looks at population, traffic flow and transportation needs and comes up with a number of taxis that they think should be on the street. Every year, they add new medallions into the system, usually with a lottery. The idea is not so much to protect the cab drivers (cities don't care about cab drivers. If they did, they wouldn't make the minor traffic fines, like your cab being 10 inches over the line of a designated taxi waiting zone, as much as $500 (which practically wipes out the cab driver's week), but to keep the number of taxis from getting so crazy that you have cabs clogging up city centers, fighting for fares.

There you go, I fixed that for you.

If the regulators approach to the problem described was the correct one then why can't I get a fucking cab when I want one? There are many more solutions to the problem of oversupply that you identify, indeed one can quite happily argue that Uber actually have one.

Comment: Who cares, you can just turn them off. (Score 1) 531 531

Tiles are nothing new; I immediately found them annoying and have always turned them off. These new "sponsored" tiles will only appear on the existing tiles page, which can still be turned off:

When you first launch Firefox, a message on the new tab page informs you what tiles are (with a link to a support page about how sponsored tiles work), promises that the feature abides by the Mozilla Privacy Policy, and reminds you that you can simply turn tiles off. If you do turn them off, you’ll get a blank new tab page and will avoid Firefox’s ads completely, including these upcoming suggested tiles.

So, it really doesn't matter.

Comment: Re:Then ID would be required (Score 1) 1089 1089

I don't want my forth choice getting in. At some point I might want to waste my vote instead of having it count towards the lesser of two evils. But the system in Australia doesn't allow for that (anymore).

Even under the old regime your empty vote was still a vote for the ones you don't want because once your paper expired it was removed from the pool of votes making everyone elses vote count a little bit more from that point onwards.

Comment: Re:Then ID would be required (Score 1) 1089 1089

Except that it only works because where you have no compulsory voting they have no reason to record "who voted" and as such this fraud is trivial. If everyone has to vote then the mechanism that checks your compliance also checks others fraud. Now, in most places it is not perfect (where I am from we don't even have to give id of any kind just your name) and so the attempt at a fraudulent vote will almost certainly get past an initial hurdle of getting the ballot paper into the box. However, the system has a number of natural checks that detect the fraud at later stages of counting/reconciliation of rolls. Such as, total number of ballots cannot be greater than the number of registered voters, collating the rolls from the multiple voting centres and checking for duplicates. In places like India, they stain the finger of a voter to ensure they do not vote more than once. etc etc

CV does not guarantee the absence of fraud (mostly it's old people who forget they have already voted) but it is _vastly_ reduced simply because of the nature of what CV means for the election as a whole.

Comment: Re:Then ID would be required (Score 1) 1089 1089

One big problem with this plan for democrats: Voters would have to present ID to get credit for voting.

Nope, not a problem. I live in a compulsory voting regime. I show up in my electorate (now there's the trick), I give my name (no id) to the person who will give me my ballot paper. They cross it off from a big book (well a set of books, organised by family name). If everyone votes, then proving who you are is less of an issue because if you go to vote and your name has already been crossed off then there is a problem. At the end of the process they check (probably scan) the books for the absent voters, check those against the postal votes/absentee votes and then proceed with enforcement (such as it is).

They probably don't even do any of that until the result for that electorate is within the tolerance of the missing/absentee/questionable votes.

With 200m electors in a presidential election (even given the electoral colleges) you might do better with something a little more electronic. But the key is you don't need ID if everyone votes because everyone that has suffrage is just in the book and you only care about double ups and no shows.

Comment: Re:meanwhile (Score 1) 342 342

I am a big fan of consumption taxes, however the tax is of itself a regressive tax. The prebate approach is the same that is used in the VAT world, it's just that the household is allowed to treat it's "necessities" as inputs and as such claim the CT, GST, VAT whatever you want to call it on those inputs. It's an interesting one. I have mixed feelings about the approach but it is certainly one way of addressing the inequities of flat consumption taxes.

PC Games (Games)

Steam On Linux Now Has Over a Thousand Games Available 192 192

An anonymous reader writes: This week the Steam Linux client has crossed the threshold of having more than 1,000 native Linux games available while Steam in total has just under 5,000 games. This news comes while the reported Steam Linux market-share is just about 1.0%, but Valve continues brewing big plans for Linux gaming. Is 2015 the year of the Linux gaming system?

Comment: Physics doesn't work like that. (Score 5, Interesting) 54 54

The higher the frequency, the less penetration of solid objects you have.

At -that- frequency, it'll work well for extremely short range, indoor, communications. But as soon as you put something even slightly solid, or damp, in the way, the signal will get blocked.

Comment: Re:Cat and mouse... (Score 1) 437 437

In a world of physical media, there was at least some plausibility to the notion of export restrictions and region coding.

I'm not sure how it ever made sense. Back in the '00s, I bought a $30 region-hackable DVD player from Sam's Club just to watch "They Live". The reason being, I could either buy the out of print Region 1 version from a third-party seller on Amazon for $150, or the in-print Region 2 version from for $5. I probably could have downloaded it from somewhere, but I was willing to throw a few dollars at it to have a legitimate copy (and I liked the idea of a region free player in any case). But hey, the studio made money, Sam's made money, and some Chinese DVD maker made money. Now, with region-locked streaming, they've managed to make it completely impossible to legitimately stream certain movies, so nobody makes money. I guess that's progress?

Comment: Re:What purpose is there for regions blocking (Score 1) 437 437

The content providers license the program to a distributor in the region for >$. In Oz, for example, it is the paytv operator, which then uses that "desirable" program as a draw card for subscribers and hence advertising dollars and hopefully 6) $profit. If people can legitimately buy it from netflix they don't need the paytv intermediary.

So the content providers (HBO et al ) won't license, say, "Trade of Toilets" or "Zombie Apocalypse series 13" to Netflix in Australia since they are already contractually bound to FoxTel (the provider). They will probably always get a better price from the network distributor than the sum of the paid views from Netflix*.

*How soon before that changes? I expect that "unbundling" and IPTV will be the death of these deals so perhaps this is all a shortish term issue.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig