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Comment: Re:Tech angle? (Score 1) 880

by Rich0 (#48673139) Attached to: Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

If it's not obvious from that context I'm going to laugh at you a great deal.

On the one hand you're talking about war profiteering, and on the other hand I think you're talking about a government-run helicopter operation, which typically is provided free of charge. I honestly do not understand your analogy here. I'm not suggesting that the army should charge people to airlift them out of disasters. I'm saying that private individuals who have no duty to respond to disasters be allowed to charge for doing so, which results in more assistance being provided rather than less.

I was very obviously providing an example of the unscrupulous preying on the desperate - the entire point of this thread as you know.

Everybody is desperate. Without money we starve, freeze, and so on. The solution to that is basic income so that we can all afford to live, not to create shortages by pricing things below market value. There shouldn't be desperate people in the first place, and with taxes there is no reason we can't afford to take care of everybody.

Comment: Re:Enforcing pot laws is big business (Score 1) 482

by Rich0 (#48672451) Attached to: Colorado Sued By Neighboring States Over Legal Pot

If more laws were handled at city and state levels and fewer at federal levels, the discussion could be a lot more rational. i.e., there are people who use marijuana recreationally and there are people who carry loaded guns in public. Both of these groups are generally not going around hurting anyone, so I don't have a problem with either of them. However, those should remain two separate groups and it seems reasonable for people to choose one or the other, not both, just like we do with alcohol today.

The problem with this is that US states are not allowed to interfere with interstate commerce, control immigration, etc. So, your model really only works if you have a very liberal mindset of anybody can possess anything they want to possess (no controls on drugs, guns, etc), and no significant amount of socialism.

If you want to ban all guns in your state, then you'll need border controls to prevent the flow of guns from states where they aren't completely banned. If you want to have strong worker protection laws in the manufacturing sector, then you need to be able to charge tariffs on goods produced elsewhere that did not have to comply with those laws. If you want to have basic income, then you need to be able to place tariffs on good produced in places that don't have basic income, and heavily tax anybody who wants to leave your state. All of these sorts of things are prohibited by the US constitution, which is why all these kinds of issues tend to become federal issues.

Comment: Re:Not sure the FDA would be much better... (Score 1) 482

by Rich0 (#48672425) Attached to: Colorado Sued By Neighboring States Over Legal Pot

The same sort of logic is the reason why there aren't a lot of new painkillers. That and tort issues.

Painkillers save zero lives per year (directly - maybe you could make a hand-waving argument about suicide prevention or something like that). Even the most common and safest ones have some risk of serious side-effects, including death. Thus, looking at it in a simplistic manner, painkillers are almost never of medical benefit.

Now, when you get to quality of life then obviously painkillers make a lot of sense. The problem is that when one person in 10 million takes your pill and dies, and you get sued, you can't point to the millions of people who are happier as a result of taking your fancy pill and use that to justify the occasional death. The result is that people developing painkillers tend to abandon them early in development if there are any issues.

The result is that we have a rather poor selection of painkillers to choose from.

Comment: Re:Who will get (Score 1) 360

by Rich0 (#48671085) Attached to: North Korean Internet Is Down

Companies should be free to hire cyber mercenaries to decimate their attackers. Maybe that's what's going on here? Or maybe they're getting a little US Mil support.

I have this sinking suspicion that this could be the common state of affairs for the Internet's forseeable future -- various unknown parties constantly breaking various things on the Internet, with the rest of us never really figuring out who is doing what to whom, or why.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a global game of Core War, being played on everyone's servers, forever. :P

Tend to agree, though there could be another possible future. Nations get tired of this nonsense and start instituting border proxies. Maybe traffic is unrestricted between nations that agree to punish those who attack on other signatories, and refrain from government attacks (think US+EU and a few others). Countries that don't crack down on hacking get their traffic proxied, with only whitelisted protocols accepted (maybe strict html without javascript, plus images in specified formats chosen for simplicity and checked for standards-compliance, and email subject to a delay to allow for spam discovery and scanning/etc - perhaps without attachments). It would basically be the death of the internet as we know it, and obviously the usual suspects will be all for it.

When what happened to Sony starts happening to many major corporations there will be a lot of talk about changing how things work. From what I've read Sony's security seemed pretty typical for any large company - a firewall against incoming connections, and little else once you get inside. Companies aren't going to want to build a complex security infrastructure internally, let alone really strong measures like isolated networks - it costs a lot and is a lot less useful unless you punch a million holes in it (which diminishes the security). With regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley companies want to be able to account for every hour charged to every project and every mile expensed and every bolt ordered against the bottom line each quarter. Gone are the days when everybody just managed their department on a spreadsheet and cascaded the numbers up the levels. Then you have all the tax nonsense - governments don't like it when the value you declare to customs doesn't match the value you get when you finish doing all your double-irish whiskey with a shot of bermuda rum shell games, and good luck having that happen without about 14 layers of integration. Keep in mind the guys running all this IT stuff are in China next to the guys doing all the hacking on behalf of North Korea in the first place. :)

Comment: Re:Gawd I hated it! (Score 2) 234

by Rich0 (#48662611) Attached to: The Slow Death of Voice Mail

Yup. Anymore I check my voicemail maybe once every few months. I don't even look for the red light - I use an IP-phone software and I only fire up the software if webex isn't working or I need to call somebody who isn't on the work IM system.

I don't mind talking to people on the phone at all - that makes perfect sense and I do it all the time. However, leaving messages is a waste of time for the recipient. When I get a message I have to sit there and take notes as they dump a train of thought lacking in important details.

When you send somebody an email you're doing them the courtesy of pre-organizing your thoughts, double-checking what you send, and ensuring it has all the necessary detail.

Oh, and when I get an email that says "please give me a call" you can imagine how fast I get back to them. Give me a problem and I'll get back to you with a solution and we'll both waste less time that way.

Comment: Re:Tech angle? (Score 1) 880

by Rich0 (#48655025) Attached to: Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

If the ticket for the last helicopter out didn't cost $1M, would there even be a last helicopter out?

Yes. The guy that takes advantage is not the same one that has the power to provide the helicopter or not.

How do you figure? Since when does somebody other than the owner of a helicopter have the last word in what it costs to ride the helicopter? If you're trying to make some kind of reference to a government-run helicopter operation, most likely they wouldn't charge anyway. Of course, they'd probably get more people out if the millionaires could get quick service on private helicopters so that the free helicopters could focus on the people left who can't afford a ticket.

Things are getting very grey, even almost black here and considering the content of a historically set novel I'm reading I may start mentioning the modern version of pimps hanging around bus stations to recruit likely girls as an example of where your "pure" economics gets rejected by society. Are you really comfortable with that?

Am I comfortable with what? That society rejects prostitution? It seems about as effective as society's rejection of drug sales. Maybe if the industry were full of reputable companies instead of pimps and such there wouldn't be as many public health issues associated with prostitution.

Have you really considered such implications before posting something like what you have written above?

What implications? I am merely saying that what most people call "profiteering" is simply charging market rates, and it tends to get more services to people when they need them, since if you don't allow the charging of market rates then you get other behaviors like hoarding and shortages (if I can't sell you my cereal stockpile for $1000/box during a famine, maybe I'll just hide my stockpile in the basement since I'd rather not risk running out for a measly $1.50). Blocking free market trades doesn't magically turn everybody into an altruist.

I'm not suggesting that I don't agree with any government regulation whatsoever. In situations where there isn't a free market (large barriers to entry, limited information available to participants, etc) I'm fine with price controls. However, in many of those situations it is better to try to remedy whatever prevents the market from being free and then let the free market take over. For example, rather than trying to regulate the price of a tooth removal (the way this stuff typically happens), it would be better to have a central place where all dentists publish their tooth removal rates, and require them to charge that rate for everybody. Then anybody getting their tooth pulled can just check the website and aggregators could add value like reviews/etc and make it into a marketplace. Competition would quickly drive costs to an efficient level, so chances are your favorite doctor won't charge much more than the market rate anyway. On the other hand, something like trauma care probably would need to be price-controlled since people needing it rarely have the opportunity to shop around.

My point isn't that markets are the solution to everything. My point is just that markets are a very efficient way to align supply and demand and maximize the amount of sales/services/etc. If your service is getting people out of danger, then a market is going to tend to get more people out of danger than other systems. It might very well cost those people more in the process, but you'll get a lot more volunteers helping to rescue people when they stand to profit from it.

Do you care that I consider you dangerously naive but have been hoping for some sort of insight from you anyway?

Not at all. You're welcome to think whatever you want of me.

Comment: Re:Tech angle? (Score 1) 880

by Rich0 (#48640975) Attached to: Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

I think there should be boundary conditions to prevent excessive predation on consumers in situations where choices are limited. The libertarian million dollar ticket for the last chopper seat out is akin to war profiteering, and society often turns upon people who exploit such situations.

If the ticket for the last helicopter out didn't cost $1M, would there even be a last helicopter out? Do we punish anybody who owns a helicopter if they don't volunteer it for disaster relief? No. So, why should we punish somebody who charges an extremely high price for its use? It sounds noble to have laws that make it illegal to sell your own organs, but the result is that we end up with shortages, which is the result anytime you have price controls.

An overly simplistic model with no cap has led to some people in Uber's new market hearing of them for the first time in a very negative context - that algorithm clearly sucks and has done damage.

Whether it sucks depends on your goals. If you are the head of Uber and your goal is to make as much money as possible, then the algorithm sucks because the average idiot customer will turn on you over something like this. If you are the head of Uber and your goal is to be a humanitarian and get as many people out of harm's way as possible, then the algorithm worked great, because the high rates would have maximized the number of drivers turning out to help people in distress.

Yes, I'm serious. I realize it completely runs counter to "common sense" but what passes for common sense these days amounts to killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

Comment: Re:North Korea has proved something. (Score 2) 220

by Rich0 (#48634217) Attached to: Hackers' Shutdown of 'The Interview' Confirms Coding Is a Superpower

Like how Iran hacked and downed a military drone in their territory?

Sure, if you buy it. Just think about what it would take to actually do what they claimed - perform a controlled landing of an enemy drone controlled by encrypted satellite connection. I could buy jamming or maybe even gps spoofing (though military gps units can authenticate gps signals). I could buy some kind of EMP attack that disabled it. A controlled landing implies fairly complete access over the drone.

Comment: Re:And yet again terrorism wins (Score 1) 230

by Rich0 (#48632543) Attached to: "Team America" Gets Post-Hack Yanking At Alamo Drafthouse, Too

You are forgetting the implications of tort law.

Even if a physical attack is very unlikely, the costs of the lawsuits which would occurs afterwards would make proceeding a rather risky thing either way.

Don't believe me? The lawsuit against the theater which didn't prevent the Aurora theater shooting continues:

I was thinking about this the other day. I tend to wonder if it would make sense to completely immunize companies from lawsuits over failure to provide adequate steps to prevent a terrorist and state-sponsored attacks as long as they comply with any direct government instructions and regulations. Victims of these attacks would be compensated by the government, which would be responsible for providing security.

The alternative is nonsense like this.

Companies should only be required to provide security to the extent that it is required by law. By all means pass laws like "you must have a state-certified security guard for every 300 people present on your property" or something like that, and then big venues would have to comply.

If Canada dropped 100 paratroopers on a hockey game and they proceeded to shoot up the place, would it make sense to hold the stadium responsible for failing to repel the attack? I don't see how terrorist attacks are any different, or how having warning makes a difference either. That just allows any nation to basically shut down operations in any other nation by making an idle threat. If the US threatened to bomb the next Olympics and did so, would it make sense to make any store in Rio de Janeiro liable if they stayed open?

If North Korea wants to threaten moviegoers they can publicize their threats themselves, and receive international condemnation in the process. If they just make semi-anonymous threats to the studio the studio should be under no obligation to publicize them, and face no liability if they choose to not do so. Moviegoers could then decide whether to stay away from the movies or not. This would actually deter attacks since the warning would probably have move of the desired effect than an actual bombing, but being forced to publicize the warning since nobody else would do it for them would hurt them. If they just sent a private warning that nobody heard and then bombed a theater, it would completely enrage the public and could very well lead to war.

If the original hack was state-sponsored (which I'm not convinced is the case, but I don't have access to the data), it will be interest to see what the response is. I saw some calling for a response of hacking the computers that were used in the attack, which would be completely pointless. First, being military in nature they're going to be very difficult to target at all, and they're almost certainly going to be backed up with the important stuff off-grid. Besides, the US has had no issues with mounting offensive cyber-war in the past, so to whatever extent that they can penetrate KP systems they're probably already doing it. KP is already under just about every sanction imaginable.

It seems like the only avenues of escalation would be along the lines of:
1. Ask China nicely to punish them.
2. Try to force China to punish them (likely via economic measures).
3. Ask the world (including China) to cooperate in some kind of firewall for nations that don't take hacking seriously. I could see this being some kind of treaty - signatories would grant/receive unfettered access to each other's networks. Non-signatures would be firewalled off (maybe force everything through an http+smtp proxy or the like). This would make network access a little more like other forms of border control.
4. Ask the UN's blessing on some kind of military action. (This obviously requires Chinese cooperation, but might be a way for them to save face - they would not actively support punishing North Korea, but they would not vote against it and would merely uphold their international duties in abiding by the decision.)
5. Take unilateral military action, such as a naval blockade. This might also be a way to allow the Chinese to save face - they could publicly decry the action but privately give pre-assurance to the US that they would not challenge the blockade. A naval blockade without private assurance from major powers that they would not run the blockade would be a diplomatic nightmare. The US probably has the power to enforce it at least for the short term, but a war with China isn't something that anybody actually wants, and it would be a very possible outcome if the Chinese challenged the blockade and were fired upon. Plus, sinking merchant ships isn't as fashionable today as it used to be.

I don't really see any other options open to the US that are likely to have any meaningful effect on North Korea, or a deterrent effect on anybody else. Option #3 above is more of a long-term solution that could be pursued independently of responding to this attack, but certainly playing the victim card could help make it happen. It actually could work as a deterrent as well as a preventative measure. You could block any VPN or encrypted traffic over the firewall (maybe with the exception of sanctioned news sites and such to allow access to dissidents), which basically makes it very difficult for companies to do business with those countries. I do recognize that getting repressive countries onto the internet has global security benefits as well, so this isn't an obviously-great solution.

Comment: Re:Tech angle? (Score 1) 880

by Rich0 (#48630975) Attached to: Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

I am not an economist, but I do appreciate it in general.

Free markets are very efficient at setting prices and balancing supply and demand.

Now, electrical utilities are about the opposite of a free market, at least as far as the last mile goes. Generation is arguably a somewhat-free market, but there are some issues with completely deregulating it. It could work on the basis of average rates, or on spot rates if actual consumers were the ones making the choice to buy electricity at spot rates (ie you program your rate to not pay above a certain rate, and if the rate goes about that your house just blacks out) - honestly, I don't think it would be worth the hassle in that case. The CA market was just a really dumb design - it allowed the generators to play games and bound the grid authority to play along. The big issue with generator choice (IMHO) is that it tends to drive everything to 99.999% utilization, which means that when anything goes wrong you have a huge grid collapse. Without some kind of system to prevent it free markets tend to drive races to the bottom.

In the case of Uber though there is a ton of demand and only so much supply. When you have a supply/demand mismatch your only real choices are auction or lottery. Most people seem to prefer the lottery (though they don't realize that this is what shortages really are), but an auction tends to be more efficient economically. A lottery gives the same opportunity to a man who needs to catch a plane out of town and a guy who wants to go sit in the park. An auction lets the guy who is desperate to catch a plane pay a bit more and be guaranteed a ride, while the guy who just wants to go sit in the park decides to watch TV for an hour and then try again. On the whole both end up happier than they would have had the one guy missed his plane (loses $300) and the other guy gone to the park (saves $10 because the cab price didn't go up).

There are lots of cases where general intution tends to be wrong. Another pet peeve of mine is the way almost all businesses run queues. Anybody who knows anything about queues knows that there is really only one way to do it right, and that is single queue, multiple tellers. People almost never self-organize into these systems, and I actually heard people complain when in a theater such a line happened to self-associate (people in the back of the line complained to a manager that everybody wasn't forming individual lines).

I'm far from a proponent of deregulation of natural monopolies, but I think that many cases that people consider "gouging" really do make the overall economy more efficient (as in it delivers the most value to everybody).

Comment: Re:Long story short (ad-less) (Score 1) 173

by Rich0 (#48621169) Attached to: Backblaze's 6 TB Hard Drive Face-Off

And that is exactly why I'm not using an SSD right now for many games. The SSD prices are getting to the point where you might be able to get 2-3 large ones on a reasonably-priced SSD, which is probably good enough. I don't tend to randomly switch between large games - I tend to play them for stretches so moving them around is more practical.

128-256GB SSDs aren't horribly priced. That is where a gamer would probably want to be right now (assuming they don't just want to blow hundreds of dollars on storage). For pure desktop use you could easily get by with a 64GB SSD or maybe even 32GB.

Comment: Re:Long story short (ad-less) (Score 1) 173

by Rich0 (#48619843) Attached to: Backblaze's 6 TB Hard Drive Face-Off

Do the maths.

That's why I was wondering if it made sense to drop to 5400RPM. Most of the stuff that needs performance is small, and would benefit from being on a cheap, small, SSD. Most of the stuff that is big doesn't involve a lot of random seeks, and that would benefit from being on a big, slow, cheap HD.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.