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Comment: Re:US Centric? (Score 3, Insightful) 167

by _Sharp'r_ (#48510663) Attached to: Is a "Wikipedia For News" Feasible?

Ever read mainstream news reporting about a topic you were very familiar with? Perhaps something related to technology, or a local issue you were in the middle of?

Most people have had that experience. The more you know about something, the less the story seems to be accurate.

Yeah, all the rest of the news stories are about that accurate also, people just mostly don't notice.

Think about it.... it's mostly some j-school grad who asked a couple people some questions to get quotes, then threw the "story" together. Usually they're lucky if they understood what they were told, let alone can explain it in a manner which actually enlightens their audience.

My best luck as been with subject matter experts who blog on news topics related to their subject. So I get my economics news and analysis from economics professors (not the pet ones in the NY Times), my legal news from law professors and judges who blog, my technical news from a technical site focused on that part of the industry, etc...

Even then you have to be willing to read multiple viewpoints to try and see a bigger picture than one voice is going to paint for you.

Comment: Re:Super-capitalism (Score 1) 516

by _Sharp'r_ (#48474393) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

Operating systems for gaming computers? I suppose your Playstation and your Wii and your Steam Machine run windows and WINE doesn't exist? Dude, don't confuse a monopoly with having a big market share.

De Beers managed to get to 85-90% of the world market for diamonds, not quite an actual monopoly... but as the diamondmarket is international, couldn't get all the governments to protect their market position by granting an actual monopoly and requiring their customers to purchase only their products. Guess what their market % is now? 40%? Lower? I guess they didn't have a natural monopoly after all.... market forces and all that.

Monsanto? No need to even go there in terms of IP. There are hundreds of seed companies farmers can buy from. Yeah, Monsanto is one of the biggest (at around 35% of the corn and soybean market share, just below DuPont) because many of their customers like their product combinations (pest control + seeds that resist it), but if another company came along tomorrow offering a better deal, how long would their market share last? One season, two? You're reading too much anti-GM propaganda and not looking at the actual facts.

Comment: Re:Super-capitalism (Score 1) 516

by _Sharp'r_ (#48468459) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

Show me a monopoly in the United States that isn't enforced by the government and you might be able to start to make a point here.

The reality is that power company monopolies exist most everywhere in the U.S. today because the government legally requires things to be that way.

Companies have no power to enforce a monopoly without the government making laws giving them a monopoly. Even if a capitalist managed to achieve a local monopoly on something, the only thing keeping their competitors away is if the barriers to entry are larger than the potential profit.

You can claim that there are some natural monopolies, but if these are actually natural monopolies, then why would it require a law to prevent anyone from competing with them?

Comment: Re:Simple answer. (Score 1) 516

by _Sharp'r_ (#48466535) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

When you have government price controls (see for example, your local public utility commission), the natural result is that the company they've setup as a monopoly has only an incentive to deliver the worst possible service they can get away with, spending the least possible on everything, and pocket the rest.

It works that way in every industry it's been tried, so there shouldn't be a big surprise it works that way in the local electricity market. The real question is why do we keep having our government set things like this up... oh, that's right, most people are ignorant of basic economics and public choice theory.

Comment: Re:Super-capitalism (Score 1) 516

by _Sharp'r_ (#48466475) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

Why do people keep conflating complete government control of an industry, to the point where the government outright decides who your local power company is and exactly how much they charge you, with capitalism? You could make a good case for calling that model socialism, or communism, or even fascism, but it's the exact opposite of any sort of market-based capitalism...

Sure, when the people in government decide to take complete control of an industry, the people in the industry become reduced to working their government masters for their own benefit, but the issue there isn't a lack of government power.

Ever heard of a public utilities commission? They're the ones who approve rates, expansion, rules for how the power company functions, etc...

Comment: Re:Environmentalists is why we still pump carbon (Score 2) 652

by _Sharp'r_ (#48459423) Attached to: Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

Fukushima and Chernobyl are deadly enough reminders.

Would it surprise you to learn that the deaths from producing renewables is orders of magnitude higher than the deaths from all the reactor meltdowns combined?

If so, do a little research and prepare to be surprised.

+ - Google Engineers - Renewable energy "simply won't work" to solve climate change

Submitted by _Sharp'r_
_Sharp'r_ (649297) writes "Two Standford PhDs, Ross Koningstein and David Fork, worked for Google on the RE<C project to figure out how to make renewables cheaper than coal and solve climate change. After four years of study they gave up, determining "Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach." As a result, is nuclear going to be acknowledged as the future of energy production?"

Comment: Re:What BS. (Score 1) 454

by _Sharp'r_ (#48457505) Attached to: Researchers Say the Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist

Exactly. The biggest issue is that it's difficult for a PHB, even a technical one, to reliably determine ahead of time who is worth 2x what everyone else is getting for a particular technology job and who is worth 1/2.

Then once someone is hired, in most companies HR makes it impossible to either give appropriate raises to those who actually deserve it or to get rid of those who aren't worth their salary as long as they're minimally performing.

Comment: Re:Government is evil! (Score 1) 135

by _Sharp'r_ (#48407021) Attached to: Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband?

Unregulated last mile wiring looks like this []. It's a "natural monopoly" because the alternative is a dangerous, unmaintainable eyesore.

Except of course, as best as I can tell, your image appears to be from India, where the companies responsible for those poles are chosen as regional monopolies heavily regulated by the government. That short of undercuts your argument....

I agree that a co-op is a decent middle ground, especially in rural areas where the residents may be more interested in the services than might be otherwise profitable for companies to create the infrastructure. The key for me to that is that the co-op actually be voluntary, not a co-op in name only, but really just another required-by-the-government organization that they decided to name a co-op.

Comment: Re:Government is evil! (Score 1) 135

by _Sharp'r_ (#48397429) Attached to: Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband?

What stops you from competing with an ISP in the last mile? You could do it right your own competing cable internet/copper wire internet/fiber internet provider to the premises.... except of course that's currently illegal in most parts of the U.S.

Last mile is not a natural monopoly... if it was, the government wouldn't have to make it illegal to try, people just wouldn't be willing to waste their money trying without any possibility of success.

Are there first mover advantages in many of the last mile connectivity markets? Sure there are, but If your city only allows one cable company to lay any cable, it isn't the market nor private enterprise preventing competition. There's only so much crap customers will put up with from the first mover before they're willing to look elsewhere, but when they're not legally allowed to....

Comment: Re:Which way are the bits going? (Score 1) 97

by _Sharp'r_ (#48296305) Attached to: Real Net Neutrality Problem: 'Edge Provider' vs 'End User'

I know it's unusual, so I apologize for the shock, but while I was replying to your post, I was actually agreeing with you.

Specifically, "I really hate how cynical I'm getting, but our corporate and government overlords keep taking our freedoms and most people are cheering them on. Good consumers. No need to be a citizen. Just be a good little consumer.", but just expanding on the mechanism a bit.

The FCC will inevitably kowtow to the corporate and other interests and lock in their vision of what the Internet is and is for, discarding the reality of what it can be and what the rest of us would like it to be.

So, carry on...

Comment: Re:Which way are the bits going? (Score 0) 97

by _Sharp'r_ (#48293525) Attached to: Real Net Neutrality Problem: 'Edge Provider' vs 'End User'

Once you invite the FCC into regulating the Internet, you end up with a few appointed non-technical guys whose first loyalty is to a political party (In this case, Democrat, but I'm not saying GOP-controlled FCC would do a much better job of regulating) or to the special interest groups they support defining the various parts of the Internet in ways that make no technical sense, but allow them to accomplish their supporters very financially and power-based objectives.

As a result, the Internet becomes required to stagnate under their defined model, severely restricting the ability of the people who actually run it and use it to innovate in order to serve people better and slowing improvements in technology until they can be made to fit under stupid artificial distinctions like "end user" and "edge provider".

They're not actively trying to mess up the Internet, it's just a known side-effect of allowing them power to do so under public choice economic theory.

So for all of you who kept advocating for the FCC to get involved in regulating the Internet under the naive belief they'd impose your personal vision of Network Neutrality, this is the type of regulations you really get, plus distinctions between land lines and wireless, and all the other crap they're going to keep "refining" the rules to cover over time.

Those who kept pointing out the reality of the FCC regulating anything (that it really just puts Verizon, et al in charge) every time a network neutrality discussion occurred on /. will just quietly think "Toldja so" and hope people remember this the next time they advocate for a government commission which will inevitably suffer regulatory capture to control something else.

In the meantime, you'll eventually wish you could just purchase from a provider the service you actually want to have, but by the time they tell you that sort of service is now illegal, it'll be too late.

Comment: Re:...and everybody gets to be right (Score 1) 172

by _Sharp'r_ (#48231539) Attached to: EU Sets Goal To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions 40% By 2030

If you are wondering about the impact of carbon dioxide on say, forests, this type of question is easy to research with a quick Google search. In 30 seconds, I found this NSF study by Harvard researchers, for example, not exactly normally a hotbed of pro-GHG folks.

It's actually quite well-established that increased carbon dioxide levels are very good for plant growth. As it turns out, it also enables them to grow while needing less water, for example.

Comment: Re:IBM no longer a tech company? (Score 4, Insightful) 283

by _Sharp'r_ (#48231167) Attached to: Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a "Real Business"

Ballmer's grandstanding. I'm pretty sure he understands the numbers in Amazon's 10-K filings.

Amazon made $745 million in income from $74 billion in sales last year, for a net income of $274 million.

That even seems understated, because they're obviously spending way more to expand their capacity than they need for just supporting their current operations. Last year, they have a net cash flow of $5.5 billion from operations, then spent $ 3.4 billion on purchases of property, equipment and software. Even after spending that much geared towards growth, that still leaves $2 billion in free cash flow to spend.

Let me put it another way, Amazon's net worth (assets minus liabilities) has gone from $17 Billion in 2010, to $23 Billion, then $27 Billion, now $33 Billion end of 2013. You don't do that without being profitable each year along the way, regardless of what they decide to do with the profit, which is clearly currently to reinvest the cash in order to expand quickly and grab as much market share as they can.

Ballmer's just jealous that no matter what Microsoft does or who they purchase, they can't convert their windows/office cash cows into a worthy reinvestment, because they're essentially out of new ideas, having mostly missed the ground floor of the Internet revolutions. So Microsoft's best bet is to act like a mature company and pay dividends so their stockholders can use that money to invest in something like Amazon.

"'Tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis true." -- Poloniouius, in Willie the Shake's _Hamlet, Prince of Darkness_