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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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Comment: Re:Don't establish a precedent. (Score 1) 698

by goodmanj (#49479607) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

The argument is that religious institutions are nonprofit charities whose goal is to serve the community rather than themselves, and that society benefits more by promoting these institutions than it would gain by taxing them.

Now, you can poke all kinds of holes in this argument for everything from Scientology to Catholicism to Jim and Tammy Bakker, but the fact is that the religious folks who came up with this argument and the religious folks who support it today aren't going to listen to you.

Comment: Don't establish a precedent. (Score 1) 698

by goodmanj (#49478965) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

If you do this, you'll establish a precedent saying that picking which religions deserve tax-exempt status is acceptable, and then the nightmare begins. Some will say the Catholic church should be non-exempt due to its handling of the pedophile priest scandal. The half of the Presbyterian church that opposes gay marriage will try to non-exempt the half that accepts it, and vice versa. Every religious controversy will lead to a demand to effectively de-churchify a denomination, and the federal government will be the final arbiter of who gets to be a church, in clear violation of the Establishment clause.

So if the scientologists can't be tax-exempt, nobody gets to be exempt. I know Slashdot is full of atheists (I'm one), so maybe a lot of us like this idea. But any politician who proposes it will be demonized by every priest, minister, rabbi, and imam in the country. If you think they believe atheists are assholes now, wait till we try to tax their faiths.

You've got to pick your battles, and this is a bad one. You can't carve this one sect out of the herd of religions without culling the whole herd, and you do not want to be face-to-face with a horde of enraged cattle with pointy horns.

Comment: Re:Libertarianism, the new face of the GOP? (Score 1) 440

by goodmanj (#49471605) Attached to: Republicans Introduce a Bill To Overturn Net Neutrality

That article is factually wrong about the order of events. Competing electrical firms collapsed into single monopolies *first*, and government came in to prevent the monopoly from running roughshod over the customer *second*.

The libertarian in this video at least gets the history right:
http://www.libertarianism.org/...

She phrases it as a grand bargain between government and the monopoly, in which the monopoly is protected in exchange for stability and reasonable prices. Which it is, but what matters to our discussion is that it's a grand bargain that was struck after the monopoly was fait accompli.

Comment: Re:Libertarianism, the new face of the GOP? (Score 1) 440

by goodmanj (#49471305) Attached to: Republicans Introduce a Bill To Overturn Net Neutrality

It's not a natural monopoly ISPs are not allowed to run fiber on the telephone poles

Oh, I see the problem. You think local government owns the telephone poles. Nope. The *electric power company* (or sometimes the phone company) owns the poles.

It's not the gubmint, it's a single private company with the power to control who gets to compete, because it owns the poles and there's no room on the street to put in more.

Comment: How the video industry works (Score 2) 152

by goodmanj (#49468975) Attached to: Sharp Announces 4K Smartphone Display

The video industry is the greatest planned obsolescence racket since the invention of the light bulb.

First you sell them a TV.
Then you sell them cable to watch on the TV.
Then you sell them a videotape player.
Then you sell them all their media on videotape.
Then you sell them a DVD player.
Then you sell them all their media on DVD.
Then you sell them a HDTV with a resolution just slightly higher than the DVD.
Then you sell them a Blu-Ray player so they can use that higher resolution.
Then you sell them all their media on Blu-Ray.
Then you sell them a 3d tv.
Then you sell them a 3d blu-ray player.
Then you sell them all their media on 3d blu-ray.
Then you sell them a 4k TV.
Then you sell them a 4k video player.
Then you sell them all their media for 4k.

And so on. The moment there's not a Next Big Thing You Have to Have, the whole industry goes belly up.

Comment: Re:Libertarianism, the new face of the GOP? (Score 2) 440

by goodmanj (#49468685) Attached to: Republicans Introduce a Bill To Overturn Net Neutrality

All domestic utility networks except water and sanitation were originally unregulated competitive markets which condensed into natural monopolies without government help: the value of a network increases dramatically with its size, so the biggest ones swallowed all the smallest ones. I'm sure you know about Westinghouse and Edison setting up parallel electricity networks in New York, but it was even more extreme for the telegraph. In 1850 there were 75 telegraph companies, ten of which served New York; in 1866 there was only one. Railroads are another example of a natural monopoly driven by network scaling.

The government mostly stepped in *after* these natural monopolies formed, to keep them from abusing their power, and its most prominent actions since have been to break them up (Ma Bell) and to prevent new ones from forming (blocking cell phone and cable mergers).

Of course I can't say that government *never* touched these networks as they were aggregating: government has touched everything humans have ever done since there were three of us, one to beat another with a stick and the third to say "stop that."

Comment: Re:Libertarianism, the new face of the GOP? (Score 1) 440

by goodmanj (#49466933) Attached to: Republicans Introduce a Bill To Overturn Net Neutrality

OK I did.

...the Internet marketplace can be analytically split into three categories: content providers... ISPs ..., and end-users. The end-users are consumers, whose consumption preferences ultimately determine the value of content. ISPs interact directly with consumers by selling the high-speed connections that allow their customers to access content.

They *define* the Internet as a one-way information transfer system like television, so of course any law that recognizes that the Internet is designed for two-way transfer between peers (some bigger than others) would be perceived as "breaking the Internet".

Comment: Re:Libertarianism, the new face of the GOP? (Score 1) 440

by goodmanj (#49466809) Attached to: Republicans Introduce a Bill To Overturn Net Neutrality

And they are solving the wrong problem. The real problem is back at the last mile, where there is NO CHOICE.

Which can only be addressed by heavy regulation, or by (gasp!) socialized infrastructure. Both of which are anathema to Randians, so this brings us to the second term of the day: Cognitive Dissonance.

It's always fun watching individualist libertarians wrestle with the concept of a natural monopoly.

Comment: Libertarianism, the new face of the GOP? (Score 5, Insightful) 440

by goodmanj (#49466499) Attached to: Republicans Introduce a Bill To Overturn Net Neutrality

This one goes out to all you libertarians who've been lining up behind the "New GOP", the Republican party that says it's looking out for individual liberties rather than corporate greed.

And yeah, I know what the truly die-hard among you are about to say: that the people who own Comcast have a right to assemble and agree to strangle internet commerce if they want to. But I say, if you allow wealthy corporate interests to accumulate far more power than the weakened government, they effectively *become* the government, and when they "exercise their liberties" it's indistinguishable from tyranny.

Comment: Wait, what? (Score 2) 489

by goodmanj (#49441851) Attached to: Reason: How To Break the Internet (in a Bad Way)

The argument, and the Payola example, boil down to this: the way to prevent people from censoring your content is to pay them not to.
Counterargument: the way to prevent people from censoring your content is to make it illegal to do so, rather than buying in to their extortion racket.

Payola worked because the station owners controlled what got broadcast. But that's not how an open communications network is supposed to work.

Comment: Re:The energy industry should not be a jobs progra (Score 1) 69

by goodmanj (#49436649) Attached to: Feds Boost Goal To 75k New Solar Power Workers By 2020

Point taken. My complaint is that the government is setting employment as a goal for the energy industry, but I didn't distinguish between the two.

But there shouldn't be a distinction: government energy policy should set the rules of the playing field to ensure that energy companies can only maximize profits by producing lots of dirt-cheap, clean and safe energy, so profit motive is aligned with the needs of society.

Comment: The energy industry should not be a jobs program (Score 4, Insightful) 69

by goodmanj (#49428721) Attached to: Feds Boost Goal To 75k New Solar Power Workers By 2020

The success of an energy sector should not be measured by the number of people it employs. The goal of the energy industry should be to produce boatloads of dirt-cheap energy with almost nobody working at it, so we can all go off and do something more fun with that manpower and energy.

It's quite easy to provide tons of energy jobs: we did this 1500 years ago, when almost everyone in Europe worked in the energy sector (farmers and animal handlers and woodcutters, back then). But gradually wind and water mills, coal and steam, electricity and petroleum came along, increasing the energy output of each energy sector worker, providing cheap energy and spare labor that were used a much richer, more interesting society.

Comment: Public-private partnership (Score 1) 175

Seems to me that the film and TV industry could really use a fake White House in the DC area as well.

So two options. First option, the Secret Service goes ahead and builds their fake White House outside of town, and then rents it out to movies and TV shows when it's not being used for drills, offsetting part of their budget.

Second option, some enterprising DC-area landowner builds their own fake White House, and rents it out for both Secret Service drills and for movies and TV shows.

Also worth pointing out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... -- there actually is a fake White House in the DC area already, but the grounds aren't very much like the real thing, so it's not too useful for the Secret Service.

"There is such a fine line between genius and stupidity." - David St. Hubbins, "Spinal Tap"

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