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Comment: Re: Not quite true (Score 1) 307

by Zeinfeld (#48430745) Attached to: UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

Whether the term is enforceable or not is debatable and almost certain to be rendered moot. Unlike US Republicans, UK Conservatives do actually believe in the rule of law and honest business practices (sort of). There isn't any party who believes that screwing the consumer is a constitutional right. There will be a bill passed.

A rather more direct question is whether the hotelier was entitled to collect the charge under the credit card agreement. And that is unambiguous, he isn't. A credit card merchant cannot use a charge card to recover a disputed charge. It does not matter what the purported contract term was or if it is enforceable. The credit card agreements are designed to prevent cardholders from dishonest merchants. So the consumer will get their refund and the hotelier will find themselves facing a 30 quid chargeback fee.

The only option for the hotelier to recover would be to take the matter to court. The most he could win is the hundred pounds, if he lost he would likely be out the legal costs which could be a couple of thousand. Small claims courts don't usually award costs but they might well do so in this case. Judges tend to detest bullies.

Comment: Re: Ask the credit card for a refund (Score 1) 307

by Zeinfeld (#48430547) Attached to: UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

Its more than that, without regulation you end up with a lemon-law market.

Lots of times the difference between an honest product and a dishonest one only becomes apparent years later. If the product is safety equipment you only find out if the hard hat works when someone drops the brick on your head.

The libertarian theory that self interest will drive people to make honest products has turned out to be utterly false. In fact it turns out to be quite difficult for a company that intends to do the right thing to do so. I once had to get a guy fired after I found he had goosed his response rates for customer support calls by deliberately setting the phone tree up as a maze.

People do all sorts of idiotic short sighted stuff. This hotelier for example got his pants in a twist over a bad review and now he has probably sunk his business completely.

Rational choice is not an empirical fact of human behavior. It is a modelling assumption that tends to give good results in certain cases. But it does not hold for corporations because the interests of the corporation are not identical to those of the employees. All those banks who go belly up because the traders get big rewards for raking in profits and face no consequences for a loss. I don't gamble with my own money but if you want to give me $100,000 to gamble with I am happy to take it to Vegas, find a roulette wheel and let you take 100% of any losses and 90% of any gains.

Comment: Re:Overly broad? (Score 1) 422

by curunir (#48183467) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

Water, when consumed in sufficient quantities to kill you, becomes an acute poison. Both water and sugar have LD50 values where they become an acute poison. But, unlike water, sugar is also a chronic poison...prolonged exposure to it causes chronic health problems. That's what we're talking about here and that's why your water example is a false equivalence.

If you want an actual equivalency, try cigarettes or non-lethal levels of ionizing radiation. You'll find your flippant remarks far less amusing when you use something that's poisonous in the same way as sugar.

Comment: Re:I Read TFA... (Score 5, Insightful) 107

by curunir (#46906395) Attached to: Places Where the Silicon Valley Bubble Could Pop

Read the linked TechCrunch's really a great explanation of everything that's going on. One good example was Mountain View working on a commercial development that would bring 42,550 jobs to the city while only creating additional housing for 7000 people. This in a city where already far more people work than live. To Mountain View, it's simple...residents require more services like schools, fire departments and police than do office complexes. But those workers have to live somewhere and cities like Mountain View that are acting selfishly are pushing rents up in nearby cities.

Two of those cities are San Francisco and Oakland. Both cities have a lot of housing when you ignore one minor detail...the current residents that would need to be displaced. But since all those jobs in Mountain View pay way more than the current residents make, developers and landlords are only too happy profiteer off the well-compensated tech workers by pricing the current residents out of the market.

But, as the piece lays out, it's not tech workers that are to blame and, for the most part, not tech companies either. It's mostly local and state government's 30+ years of stupidity that's led to this. Starting with prop 13 in 1978 and the backlash that led to rent control laws, government created an environment where homeowners fight tooth and nail against new housing and rent control drives rent up by distorting the market. The ensuing difference between controlled and uncontrolled rents causes conflict between tenants and landlords who see how much money they're losing each month. So the city adds even more idiotic regulations that ensure a certain amount of housing is sold/rented below market rates, which has income restrictions that just about guarantee that poor people won't be able to afford them...but zero-income children of parents willing to cosign qualify quite easily.

Meanwhile, companies keep growing/starting up and more and more high-paying jobs keep coming to the area. But thanks to all those "I got mine, screw the rest of you" homeowners who keep new developments from being built, those jobs come without the corresponding increase in necessary housing. So what are current landlords to do...every form of meddling is forcing prices through the roof to the point where only highly-paid professionals can afford them? You could either sit by and allow your tenant to pay you a small fraction of what the place is worth (and sometimes rent it out for full price on rent control there) or you could use some sleazy tactic to evict the long-time tenant and let the boom dollars roll in. Also, notice I didn't say tech professionals...we make up less than a quarter of the well-to-do SF population...there's more finance than tech.

As per usual, the ones most hurt by this are the working poor. The abject poor are doing the same as ever...when you make zero and live off city-provided social programs, rent prices really don't affect you all that much. But the people trying to be productive members of society are basically forced to move away and commute back to the city. And this has some really nasty side police officers who have no real attachment to the community they serve because they've been priced out of living there.

Protesting the Google bus makes for a great shot on the 11pm news, but is otherwise counter-productive. If we want to fix the issue, we should:
a) Repeal prop 13, rent control, the below-market-rate program and all the other government meddling.
b) Tell homeowners to go fuck themselves and start building new housing as fast as we can.
c) Add significant tax incentives for people who live close to work. This would have the dual effect of being "green" by reducing commutes and making it unattractive to work in cities that do not provide enough housing to support the businesses there.

Alternatively, we could just accept that poor people will need to move and let it happen. It's heartless, but given how bungling government is, it's pretty much inevitable. The unfortunate part is that what's considered poor is almost ridiculous. Someone making $100k/yr will basically never be able to afford to buy a home in SF.

See...SF and Oakland have a lot to do with Silicon Valley :-)

Comment: Re:It already found its place. (Score 1) 333

by curunir (#46903411) Attached to: Figuring Out the iPad's Place

I've got two iPads and I think it's misguided to look at it replacing desktop/laptops or phones. The commonality between those two devices is basically limited to activities that I see as having become, web and the like.

But the iPad has partially replaced two of my other devices. I have a 55" flatscreen and PS3 that get significantly less use these days, and it's mostly because of the iPad. I'm not a heavy gamer, so it's notable that I've filled the PS3 void with games that are significantly simpler than what I have on the PS3, but I still find the greater variety of games available on the iPad compelling. For the price of one PS3 game, I can get ~30 iPad games and augment that with many free games. That means I'm almost never bored, despite the lack of depth of each game. And while the iPad might not be as compelling a media viewing device as my 55" screen, I find myself using it more often. It's more convenient, there's no remotes, no switching inputs and streaming is easier. Media companies often bend over backwards to prohibit streaming to devices that can be hooked up to a TV, but they'll make streaming to an iPad work well. When you add in advantages like not disturbing someone who's sleeping and not needing to pause to go to the bathroom I find myself unconsciously gravitating towards streaming on my iPad.

Any discussion of whether the iPad is displacing another consumer electronic device should include TV and gaming consoles long before you include computers or cell phones.

Comment: Re:Build refineries in ND (Score 1) 206

by Zeinfeld (#46802907) Attached to: Obama Delays Decision On Keystone Pipeline Yet Again

There is plenty of capacity in St Louis and room to build more.

The cost of the pipeline is much more than the cost of a refinery. The 'surplus capacity' claim is total nonsense. The tar sludge isn't anything like the crude that the existing refineries process. There would have to be major upgrades in any case. And building a two thousand mile pipeline costs a heck of a lot more than any refinery would.

Comment: Re:after november... (Score 1) 206

by Zeinfeld (#46802895) Attached to: Obama Delays Decision On Keystone Pipeline Yet Again

The decision was made years ago: No pipeline.

Not announcing the decision stops the Koch bros and the Keystone corp from starting their appeal. Its like an administrative filibuster.

There is already a pipeline that runs to St Louis, the only reason to build the second pipeline is to sell the sludge to China. Having that option available will allow the price to be jacked up when the sludge is sold to the US market as it will fetch the international price which is a lot higher than the refiners currently pay in St Louis.

There is absolutely no reason for the US to OK a pipeline that will increase the cost of supply to the US market. The only reason the GOP backs the pipeline is that the Koch bros stand to make $100 billion from the increase in the value of their shale tar sands.

It is a purely tactical decision because nobody outside the GOP wants the pipeline built. Everyone who wants the pipeline will vote GOP in November whatever the decision. Obama could make a short term political gain by announcing that there will be no pipeline but that would allow the appeals to start. Better for the country to wait until there have been some GOP deaths on the SCOTUS.


The GNOME Foundation Is Running Out of Money 693

Posted by samzenpus
from the coffers-are-bare dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The GNOME Foundation is running out of money. The foundation no longer has any cash reserves so they have voted to freeze non-essential funding for running the foundation. They are also hunting down sponsors and unpaid invoices to regain some delayed revenue. Those wishing to support the GNOME Foundation can become a friend of GNOME."

Comment: Re:Because... (Score 1) 794

by curunir (#46373995) Attached to: Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

Great, now Syngenta's GMO sweet corn is labeled and Monsanto's non-GMO broccoli is not.

The label doesn't need to just say GMO...they can put their name on it as well. But I've got no love for any of the companies in that field, so I'm fine with hurting other GMO companies in addition to Monsanto.

You mean the ones anti-GMO groups routinely lie about?

I don't claim to follow it closely, but I've heard those "lies" from many different sources and it's just you calling them lies. Given that I don't really see an upside to GMO crops, I don't really see a need to reexamine what I've heard.

Evolution is just a theory, disagree with that? Then why not label it, just for information's sake?

Now you're just being obtuse. Theory, in a scientific context, doesn't mean what you're pretending it means. Gravity is also a theory. Relativity is a theory. The use of the word 'theory' doesn't mean we don't know that it's true. But I'd imagine that textbook authors would consider, "This book contains information on the theory of evolution." to be a badge of honor rather than the stain that "GMO" would be, so I guess I'm okay with that label...if a creationist wants to avoid evolution, that's their right and I support that. Just as long as those "other" textbooks have to wear the "This book contains 'information' on creationism" label.

Comment: Re:Because... (Score 5, Insightful) 794

by curunir (#46371875) Attached to: Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience

I don't give a rats ass about whether GMOs are healthy or not. I want them labeled because I don't want a dime of my money to go to Monsanto. I want Monsanto to die because of their patent policy, exploitation of the third world and general willingness to endanger our ability to feed ourselves.

Fuck anyone who frames the labeling of GMOs as a health issue, be they for or against. It's an informed consumer issue, nothing more.

Comment: Re: It's just a tool I guess (Score 1) 294

by flynt (#46357145) Attached to: Doctors Say New Pain Pill Is "Genuinely Frightening"

The Phase III study "Study 801" of the compound under discussion did have an open-label run-in period, *and* was placebo controlled.

I believe the link below is the study under consideration. Regardless, the press release mentions the placebo control.

From the last link:

Zohydro ER was studied in over 1,100 people living with chronic pain who participated in the pivotal Phase 3 efficacy study or an open-label Phase 3 long-term safety study. The efficacy study that enrolled over 500 subjects with chronic low back pain met the primary endpoint in demonstrating that treatment with Zohydro ER resulted in significantly improved chronic pain relief compared to placebo.

Comment: Listen to yourself (Score 1) 263

by curunir (#46339545) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When Is a Better Career Opportunity Worth a Pay Cut?

I've been through this a few times and, strangely enough, I've found wisdom in a small speech from a mediocre movie that's helped with my last few.

To paraphrase:

There's no such thing as a tough decision. We make hundreds of decisions each day and, over the course of a year, the number of decisions we make runs into tens or even hundreds of thousands. We only think decisions are hard when we don't like the answer that we've come up with.

The movie was otherwise forgettable, but that quote has stuck with me and I've used it on quite a few occasions to try to listen to whatever voice inside me has already decided and drown out the conscious thoughts that are trying to undermine that decision with logical arguments. It looks weird to type, but I've found that whether it's decisions in a relationship, career or even what to eat for dinner, starting from the position that I've already made the decision and then trying to figure out what my decision was makes the decision making process easier.

Listening to your description, I can guess at the decision you've made. But I encourage you to read your own words aloud as if they aren't yours and try to figure it out for yourself. Chances are you're trying to talk yourself into either staying or going. There's no guarantee that this will help you arrive a the correct decision. But it will at least help you determine which outcome you actually want.

Comment: Re:Almost always yes, with a but (Score 5, Insightful) 263

by curunir (#46339077) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: When Is a Better Career Opportunity Worth a Pay Cut?

4) If you've been working as an engineer for 30 years and you still need the money, you're doing it wrong.

Moreover, I've felt for quite some time that I need to have at least a year's salary saved up so that I can do my job effectively. And by doing my job effectively, I need to feel comfortable saying, among other things:

    * That's illegal/immoral, I'm not going to do it.
    * That's a dumb idea, we shouldn't do it.
    * That's an impossible deadline, I'm not going to agree to meet it.

If I'm not entirely comfortable with them calling my bluff and losing my job over the issue, I won't feel comfortable saying those things. And, as an engineering leader, I need to be able to say those things if they need to be said.

Comment: Re:riiiight (Score 1) 361

by curunir (#46277921) Attached to: Killing Net Neutrality Could Be Good For You

And the Netflix/ESPN argument is a strawman. Net neutrality isn't about protecting established players like Netflix, ESPN or anyone big enough to play the "withholding our services from your customers" card. Net neutrality is about protecting the startup that wants to challenge Netflix and doesn't have the leverage to push back against the telcos.

Comment: To 3D print out woes away (Score 1) 888

by maraist (#46250209) Attached to: Star Trek Economics
I'm not seeing the connecting-gap between ' Amercans no longer fret over iPhones (because we can print one with a 3D printer ) ' and 'We can build a star-ship because we've decoupled interest-in-work from the-need-to-work-to-earn-money-to-survive / acquire the things we wish to have'.

I don't fundamentally understand how a star trek society can exist. If we can all convert energy into material things. Consider the fabel, "these are rich people's problems".. Meaning the stresses that make us work harder are ultimately enslave us to our commitments, _change_ as we get wealthier (individually and socially), but they do not disappear.

You might consider the man that has earned enough money that he can go back-packing in Asia for 10 years.. Could the world function if everybody did so? Assume even that we had robots to build houses / plant our food. SOMETHING is always going to be present that prevents eutopia, even 1,000 years after such a world.

It's too narrow minded to look at today's problems, remove a single variable and say; now sci-fi happens.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson