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Comment: Re:Militia, then vs now (Score 1) 1264

by dywolf (#46768871) Attached to: Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

hah. you called slashdot conservative (and im not one generally speaking).

on topic:
I'm all for rephrasing it to make it clearer.
i believe there are two possible interpretations:

1:
the assumption of a militia as a band of men/volunteers as seperate from a standing army and as a potential counter to that army. this militia is essential to the security of a free state by providing the means with which to resist an overpowering government. thus, its essential this militia be able to arm itself.

problems with this is the Militia of the United States is now called the National Gaurd and fall under the command of the US Army, even though the governors can call them out for various states of emergency. specifically part of the Army Reserves. National Guard members are thus both part of hte Army and comprise the legally defined US militia (the us militia also includes "all able bodied men ages suchandsuch", part of which was the basic for conscriptiona nd the draft, etc etc....deeper than this is intended to go). some states also have state militias, but that's also deeper than this is inteded to go. The effective difference in the National Guard and the Army is essentially nil, since they are now essentially just hte Army Reserve (or part of it), and thus fully capable of being delpoyed overseas to augment or relieve regular army units, as we've seen in the past decade and a half.

To sum up, the problem here: If the militia is intended in the USC as the counter to the government's standing army, then we now have created a conflict of interest as the counter to the standing army is now considered part of it.

this is also the primary problem with the book authors addition, as his rephrasing implicitly assumes this interpretation, while ignoring the present status of the National Guard.

2:
the other interpretation swaps the role of the militia, and equates the militia with the concept of an official military force, regardless of form (standing army or volunteer militia). This interpretation says that "while a militia, or standing army, or national defense force, or whatever you want to call it, is neccesary to the security of a free state from outside forces, this is a neccessary evil. we distrust standing armies, and thus every citizen shall have the right to be armed in potential defense against such a force being used against its own people".

this is the concept i hew to, as it seems to most accurately reflect the founder's pholisophies and experiences with standing armies. it also creates many potential problems. for one, Disparity of Force. We have guns, the military has tanks and bombers and battleships. its basically impossible to achieve its stated goal of resistance if push actually came to shove.

another, is some people simply shouldnt be allowed to have guns. societally we have solved this one by basically saying, well, reasonable gun controls are OK. And I support that notion. of course, the devil is in the details of what constitutes "reasonable". for some anything and everything is unreasonable, and for others a blanket ban is totally reasonable.

me, i say background checks and short waiting period are essential, reasonable, and common sense, plus they give a dealer/seller peace of mind that he isnt inadvertantly aiding a criminal act (though admittedly there are some dealers who wouldnt care). even if the individual still obtains a weapon illegally, at the least it wasnt made too easy for him to do so.

and there are the additional problems of the times and society and its attitudes have changed. in this hyper partisan atmosphere we recently had "militias" ready to shoot and kill BLM agents simply for enforcing the governments property rights against a rancher in nevada who decided he can use land that isnt his for free. (abject hypocrisy and stupidity by these individuals, but what else is new?)

Comment: Re:What the tax form should look like (Score 1) 408

by dywolf (#46767775) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

The flat tax is still regressive and disproportionately affects poor and low income folks.
It sounds good, but you must remember that while you can scale a tax as a flat percentage of income, you can't scale the minimum cost of living (MCOL). Its the flip side of the "decreasing value of money" theory.

This is generally handled by the marginal tax bracket system, which is what we use: splitting your income into portions, and then say from 0-20k, you pay 0% on that portion of income (first 20k free), then from >20k to 40K, pay say 10% on that portion, and then 12% on the next portion, on up the line.

ideally, the result is more effective and efficient at acounting for the MCOL of low incomes while still providing sufficient revenue and fairly evenly distributing the tax burden across a population, such that folks all pay roughly the same % as a function of their purchasing power not just income. but the devil is in the details, and this is where the special inerest come in, such as the GOP cutitng the top marginal rates (ie, the infamous tax cuts for the rich).

you can handle it in a flat tax system by simply exempting the first 10k (or whatever) dollars, but now youve created the basis of a marginal tax bracket system, albeit one with a single sharp inflection instead of a smooth curve, so might as well go full monty with the thing.

Comment: Re:Government jobs (Score 1) 408

by dywolf (#46767619) Attached to: Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

The problem is that the government doesn't generally have a good way to prune back services that are no longer required and doesn't tend to be exposed to market forces forcing it to be efficient.

Not true at all. You propogated several myths.

Myth 1: Government programs never die.
Reality: Government programs die all the time. Some fade away never to be heard from again, others are explicitly killed once they're run their course and achieved their purposes. An average of 38 programs die every year. Since the mid 90s nearly 650 government programs have been put out to pasture.

Myth 2: Government programs inherently inefficient, less so than market forces.
Reality: Government specifically tackles those issues which the market either can't and hasn't, or are specifically and inherently inefficient for the market to handle. IE, market failures. Public utilities, public infrastructure, and other public goods are the perfect examples. Social programs, particulary the safety nets also. Healthcare is the defacto best example: the governement programs (medicare/medicaid) are the single most efficient and effective segments of our healthcare industry, far far more so than the private insurance segments. As a whole our entire industry costs far more (200-300%) on average than any other country while providing far less...but split into segments and the government programs are only about 40% above countries, while the private segments are >400% above.

There have been many empirical studies examining the efficiency of government bureaucracies versus business in a variety of areas, including refuse collection, electrical utilities, public transportation, water supply systems, and hospital administration. The findings have been mixed. Some studies of electric utilities have found that publicly owned ones were more efficient and charged lower prices than privately owned utilities. Several other studies found the opposite, and yet others found no significant differences.6 Studies of other services produced similar kinds of mixed results. Charles Goodsell is a professor of Public Administration and Public Affairs at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University who has spent much of his life studying bureaucracy. After examining these efficiency studies, he concluded: “In short, there is much evidence that is ambivalent. The assumption that business always does better than government is not upheld. When you add up all these study results, the basis for the mantra that business is always better evaporates.”

Further evidence that business is not always superior to government bureaucracy can be found in the area of health care. This is a critical issue today and it is well worth examining in some detail the question of whether market-based health care is superior to government run programs. Conservatives constantly warn us that adopting “socialized” medicine would put health care in the hands of government bureaucracies, which would be a recipe for incredible waste and inferior care. But is this really the case? We can answer this question by comparing the performance of public versus private health care systems. Every other developed country has some form of universal health care with a substantial amount of public funding and administration. In contrast, while the U.S. has a few programs like Medicare and Medicaid, most of our health care system is privately funded and administered. According to conservative mythology, this market-based system should produce better health care and do so more cheaply. But neither of these claims hold up when we look at studies of the actual performance of public and private approaches to providing health care.

First, studies have found that the U.S. health care system is by far the most expensive in the world. We spend 13.6% of our gross domestic product on health care – the highest in the world. The average for the other 13 industrialized countries in the OECD is 8.2%.8 We also rank number one in terms of health care expenditures per capita, with U.S. spending $4,090 a year for every citizen. The highest figures for other industrialized nations are $2,547 per year for Switzerland, $2,339 for Germany, $2,340 for Luxembourg, and $2,095 for Canada.9 But while we clearly have the most expensive health care system in the world, it does not always deliver the best health care nor does it provide health care in the most efficient way.

http://www.governmentisgood.co...

Another example is space, and the article touches on that as well. Then there's R&D, science, education. The list goes on and on.

The short of it is this: goverment is NOT inherently sheilded from the market, unless specifically designed to be such. It can and usually is very active in the market and has direct effects on it. Public options in the market have long, LONG, been known to have the effect of keeping prices downa nd forcing innovation and further efficiency in the market by the private actors just by virtue of the need to compete with and attract customers away from the public options.

Comment: Re:Rancid Peanut Butter? Mmmmm. (Score 1) 440

by dywolf (#46630255) Attached to: Million Jars of Peanut Butter Dumped In New Mexico Landfill

rancid does not mean "bad for you". rancid is just another name for oxidized, specifically of fat.
it would still be perfectly edible and harmless to your body. would just taste funny.

peanut butter basically doesnt go bad. its naturally highly resistant to microbes taking root and growing, and natuarlly very long lasting.
thats why the salmonella contamination incident was so shocking originally. it wasnt like a bad peanut got in the batch. it was outside contamination, such as of the machinery in the processing plant.

stale is another word that people unfairly take to mean "spoiled" or "bad for you".

Comment: Re:Without James Sinegal, Costco is not well manag (Score 1) 440

by dywolf (#46630221) Attached to: Million Jars of Peanut Butter Dumped In New Mexico Landfill

"who knows what organisms have made the jar their home"

None. Peanut butter doesn't go bad. High fat and oil content, low moisture means its naturally long lasting. All that happens is the fatty oils may go rancid from oxidation after a year; if it stays vacuum sealed longer than that.

Comment: Re:Everyone is a potential criminal in L.A. (Score 1) 405

by dywolf (#46583885) Attached to: L.A. Police: <em>All</em> Cars In L.A. Are Under Investigation

you're misinterpretting a very simple concept. they cant agree on a number because they dont agree on what constitutent a seperate law or crime. one group interprets a passage as describing one crime, while another thinks its multiple crimes or regulations.

that's the problem with this little piece of pop culture: its used to insinuate that non one even knows how many laws there are, as if there are hundreds or thousands just hidden away....

after all, its not like we keep them all written down in books anywhere...

oh wait, THATS EXACTLY WHAT WE DO.
its possible to sit down and count all the words, all hte sections, all the paragrahs, all the volumes, of all the law in the US. the problem is simply that the people doing the counting have different opinions as to what groups of words, sentences, sections and paragraphs comprise discrete laws and regulations. its like a giant messily written program with tons of GOTO and GOSUB statements sprinkled throughout it.

you can start your own count at the Federal Register ( https://www.federalregister.go... ) ...you know, the guys actually responsible for writing it all down and keeping track of all the things Congress and the Federal Agencies do.

Comment: Re:Nope. (Score 1) 166

by dywolf (#46583531) Attached to: <em>Diablo 3</em> Expansion <em>Reaper of Souls</em> Launches

no, WDs can use any ranged weapon other than the class locked ones for the DH.
weapon type simply rarely matters. its just a stat stick. class weapons simply get a few bonuses that may or may not be worthwhile.

i dont see hwo free respecs kills replayabilty. id think not having to replay an entire 60 (now 70) levels just to get a new build would dramatically increase game life and reduce player burnout.

i played Diablo3 at release. it sucked. bad. hated it. left it, dropped, didnt touch it again.
tried Path of Exile...fun, if somewhat clunkier.
Torhlight 2...really fun. The real Diablo3 in many ways.

but the recent changes to D3 have all been dramatically good. they killed off the AH entirely. the loot is no longer mostly useless garbage. drop rates and quality are DRAMATICALLY improved. the crafting is improved as well, such that youll rarely sell anything, and instead salvage it more often.

if you didnt like the class builds before, theres not much i can see to that, other than if you, like me, havent played since initial release, at least giev a look cause a lof ot the skills have been changed and retuned. i remember initially, playing a WD, pretty much all the skills were like all the others. you basically just picked which button was an AE, a DD, a CC, or regen, and which graphic skin it used. they fixed that to a degree, and the skills now have a bit more flavor (at least for the Wd, though WD still seems to be rather unfairly forced to use Zombie Bears as a build, as its simply so much better than most everything else).

ive been playing agian for the expandion the last few days (managed to get it reduced cost with the bonuses to WOW) because i wanted to see how much exactly has changed. its dramatically improved. if you can find a friend with it, at least take a look. i've been pleasantly surprised and will probably play for at least a couple weeks, thuogh i still am less of a grind oriented player and may not go beyond that time frame.

Comment: Re:Do electric cars actually produce CO2? (Score 1) 330

one solution is better high speed commuter rail (or it's mere existence in the US) or other mass transit. mass transit is generally inherently more efficient. and stagnant rush hour is one of the single biggest pollution sources in a city. some amount of pollution is inescapable, but if rush can be reduced or nearly eliminated it can at least become limited to vehicles that are actually moving. commuter rail also has the advantage if increasing the feasibilty of accessing a city (for work or play) from larger distances, just like interstates and freeways initially did (before rush hour was invented). this allows access to cheaper land/real estate and lower costs of living. it helps outlying towns by providing more economic flow from the metro area. mass transit is great for everyone involved.

but it is ESPECIALLY good for the low income and poor folks stuck in the city.

problem is some (many) cities fight mass transit because it has the effect of allowing the "undesireables" to leave the inner city to locate work and housing in more affordable outlying areas. Specifically thinking of Atlanta, from experience, which has only 7 major transportation routes out of the metro during rush hour, the North and South bound legs of I75 and I85, and the E/W legs of I20, and GA400, along with a ring route I285. It DESPERATELY needs a metro line. But because Atlanta itself is only a portion of the area inside I285, and you have 8 different counties meeting there, there is no central authority to push it through.

this allows the outlying communities and counties to effectively kill any attempts at single real metro line, or other metro transportation system. Theres not even a single bus line. There's MARTA which operates only inside actual Atlanta (with a spur paralleling about 10 miles of GA400) and then each county and suburb has its only bus line. the result is you can't just board a single bus (or single company's bus) and ride it all the way into the city, you have change companies several times. This is incredibly inefficient, and its why no one relies on it who doesnt have to, and no one uses it to get from even slightly outside the perimeter (say, Smyrna) into downtown. The only people who use it are the less well off and poorer blacks in the city itself, and cheifly only to get around their surrounding area of maybe a dozen blocks. but it stays this way because the edges of the metro area DONT WANT those people (ie, black folks, especially poor ones) to be able to easily leave and settle outside the city, live outside the city while working inside it (or live in the city and access jobs on the edge of the metro complex...either way) , even though that kind of mobility would dramatically improve their lives and economic oppportunity. Those that can afford cars do move farther out, and join the rushhour, though again, rush hour imposes its own economic hurdles, in addition to the hurdle of getting a car (many of the folks stuck on the city dont have cars), but given the opportunity and infrastructure to make decisions that improve their family's situations, they do. And that scares many of the folks surrounding Atlanta.

Short version: The immobility of poor inner city populations leaves them stagnant and largely unable to change or improve their lives. A decent, efficient metro system changes that, opening up more opportunities, more mobility, more ability to choose and control ones circumstances, just by giving them access to more places to live and work. And the outlying communites fight such a concept tooth and nail. And its like that in many cities, not just Atlanta, and not just in the South.

It's one of the single biggest hurdles to improving our infrastructure and getting real, reliable mass transit, like high speed commuter rail, built.

Comment: Re: Ridiculous. (Score 1) 914

punishment as a deterrent does work.
the problem is when people are poor enough or desperate enough that it becomes worth the risk.
you cannot simply ignore the basic risk v reward calculation that eveyrone does, all the time, and declare "punishment doesn't work".
its always been about tradeoffs. right now, the rewards still far outweigh the risks for many of the ppor and desperate around the world and in our own country. that doesnt mean it "doesnt work" is a hard and fast rule.

Comment: Re: Ridiculous. (Score 1) 914

addendum: i also think the idea of privatizing prisons and letting for-profit companies run them is a tremendously bad idea.

for some odd reason those sort of companies like to write things like the original arizona immigration law proposal, with its mandatory 6 month sentences for anyone (who happens to be brown) that cant provide proof of citizenship....

Comment: Re: Ridiculous. (Score 2) 914

in our country...maybe. but our prisons are also fairly permissive compared to others around the world. we allow free association of inmates in large groups. we have drug and gang kingpins stil running their collectives from within the prisons, etc. and we decided that we like the idea of giving them a chance to rehabilititate, so we allow inmate populations several concessions that a society focused strictly on punishment would never allow.

now personally, i think if someone has committed an offense worthy of jail time the battle is already half lost (education/prevention/rootcause-elimination being the ideal way to reduce crime). but that said, i also think our prison system is schizophrenic. we lock people away from society for a set time, make some half-arsed attempts to change them, and then when the magic number is up, let em loose again.

it's as if we're attempting to implment a two-pronged strategy within a single system.
i think it should be split into a two-tiered system, one focused on rehabilitation, and one focused on simple incarceration/locking away incurables away from general society. (possibly permanently. say on an island somewhere. though if one of the prisoner's looks like ray liotta, i recommend not sending him there.)

Comment: Re:Did Fluke request this? (Score 1) 653

by dywolf (#46532599) Attached to: $30K Worth of Multimeters Must Be Destroyed Because They're Yellow

The problem with that is there's already at least 2 other brands of multimeter that actually are yellow on black similar to fluke's (likely specifically so they do look like flukes). not just kinda yellow like those in the summary. Sperry is one, sold at home depot alongside fluke's basic meters.

"There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum." --Arthur C. Clarke

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