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Comment: Re:This happened because of taxaphobia (Score 1) 1505

by hhallahh (#34537444) Attached to: Judge Declares Federal Healthcare Plan (Partly) Unconstitutional
"If he had simply put a tax increase in the bill to pay for it, it would be totally constitutional." Maybe. If the tax were not contingent on health-care ownership, then it would probably be constitutional but it would also fail to serve the specific purpose that the individual mandate is supposed to serve - avoiding having people opt-in and opt-out of being insured based on how sick they are at any given moment. If the mandate's penalty was simply reframed as a tax increase, then it might be constitutional, or it might have been found to be a pretextual attempt to circumvent the kind of constitutional restrictions which motivated today's verdict - you can't, for example, get away with taxing people who engage in speech you disapprove of rather than simply banning it and running afoul of first amendment protections. But the main point is that if the individual mandate were actually framed as a tax increase that would largely fall on lower/middle-class individuals, then it simply wouldn't have passed through Congress.

Comment: Re:Partisan politics sucks. (Score 2) 1505

by hhallahh (#34537294) Attached to: Judge Declares Federal Healthcare Plan (Partly) Unconstitutional
This might come as a shock to you, but the Republicans who promoted an individual mandate in the 90s (think-tank types, mostly) and the Republicans who sympathize with this lawsuit may not, in fact, be the same set of Republicans. Yes, there is probably a large amount of politically-convenient hypocrisy here, but I suspect that most people who oppose the individual mandate in 2010 also would have opposed it in 1994.

Comment: Has a ways to go (Score 1) 350

by hhallahh (#29638985) Attached to: Will Books Be Napsterized?
I got a Kindle a while back, and I have to confess that I've been pretty disappointed that there isn't an equivalent of Napster or The Pirate Bay for ebooks yet, as far as I can tell. But it isn't merely an issue of consolidation, it's an issue that a lot of books simply don't seem to have .pdf versions which are readily available yet. Yes, the books that you'll find in Borders often do, and a lot of popular textbooks do as well, but beyond that... I think this is a serious limitation to the appeal of e-book readers. I was able to accept that the Kindle was missing a lot of obvious features because readers are a new technology, but I find the lack of .pdf versions of the texts I want to be more problematic. Granted, a lot of the books I can't find in .pdf versions are available from Amazon's store. But iTunes it ain't... I'm not going to seriously invest in Amazon's walled garden until the prices fall to something closer than what you'd expect of a digital copy. Ebooks need their Napster if only to pressure the publishing industry to reform.

Comment: Re:Sez who? (Score 1) 753

by hhallahh (#27735105) Attached to: Obama Says 3% of GDP Should Fund Science Research And Development
You're conflating "basic research" with "huge, focused projects on particular ends". If you think there are a lot of good Manhattan Project-style R&D projects that we should be working on that the private sector couldn't fund, I'd be interested to hear of them. Bonus points if you can show evidence that they'd be remotely cost-efficient (ie. no space elevators.)

Comment: Re:You Can't Fight the Internet (Score 3, Insightful) 544

by hhallahh (#27721171) Attached to: California Family Fights For Privacy, Relief From Cyber-Harassment
It's a shame because this is essentially a good post, but the bitter undertone of "your daughter may have died, but you're still living a comfortable upper-class lifestyle" is pretty disgusting (and according to the article, not uncommon.) The family's score is with the OCPD *and* with the nebulous force of internet users (or, to avoid lumping them all together, some specific users.) The main point, though, is that there's only hope for a satisfactory legal resolution with the former group

Comment: Re:QuestHelper (Score 1) 344

by hhallahh (#27279975) Attached to: Blizzard Asserts Rights Over Independent Add-Ons
My advice would be to just keep publishing the addon in violation of these rules. Firstly, Blizzard most likely cannot do anything about this. Secondly, it is likely that Blizzard most likely does not mind the existence of these addons at all, they're just worried about potential legal liabilities that could arise through poor user experiences and they're just making these rules as a way to show that they've tried taking measures to address these hypothetical issues. As long as you don't get blacklisted by the community, you should be fine.

Comment: Free Riders (Score 2, Interesting) 504

by hhallahh (#26185493) Attached to: An In-Depth Look At Game Piracy
Until people understand basic economics, people will simply conceptualize piracy as stealing from "the Man" or whatever rather than recognizing that it both drives producers out of the market and drives up prices for the paying customers who have to be responsible for recouping the development costs. Undoubtedly a lot of anti-piracy measures taken have only made things worse, but that shouldn't obfuscate the fact that piracy is a huge problem. Unfortunately, the impact of piracy on markets is largely invisible to customers, while the benefits (paying $0 vs. paying the shelf price) are anything but. The post-hoc ethical justifications are particularly disgusting... I really loved the ironic discussion of how file-sharing systems used for free-riding pirates have to deal with their own free-riding issues.

If I set here and stare at nothing long enough, people might think I'm an engineer working on something. -- S.R. McElroy