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Comment Race to the bottom (Score 3, Insightful) 165

FTA: "The result is that many journalists turn out to be not so valuable at all. Their wages fall or they lose their jobs, while the superstar journalists attract more Web traffic and become their own global brands."

So at least in journalism, only the most popular will have a subsidized voice, and the rest will have to pay their own way if they want to share their insights. Since when is popularity the ultimate measure of value in a society, especially when it comes to news? Sometimes people really need to hear the stuff that's scary, uncomfortable, guilt-inducing, etc., even though it's not popular. If we continue down this road then I hope everyone enjoys having Fox-style reporting as the only available news source.

Yes, I realize I've used a 'reductio ad absurdum' argument, but I don't think I've gone very far into absurdity here. It strikes me that in a lot of ways this kind of 'metric' is merely measuring quantity when its purveyors seem to think that it measures quality. Maybe that's because quantity is so much easier to measure. But like a drunk searching for his keys under a streetlight because 'the light's better there', it's probably counterproductive.

Comment Re:Pointless (Score 1) 162

But there is an interesting twist to this line of thought: if individual companies become, in effect, their own nation states, should we require that they are run more like nations - with all it entails, including citizenship, democracy, social security, infrastructure paid for by themselves etc?

Interesting concept - reminds me a bit of zaibatsu and keiretsu.

And, if the difference between nations and businesses become ever smaller, why is it actually that nations are not allowed to compete in the market like businesses do? In the past, the argument was that the state would have an unfair advantage over national businesses both because of their size and the fact that they decide the laws etc, but if that national laws are now powerless against transnationals, there is no longer a good reason for states not to compete with business.

I think this would lead to a scenario wherein states and businesses would become more and more indistinguishable until there was no practical difference between them. And that would be a bad thing. A state's first priority, (and really its only priority), should be to look after its citizens. If a state becomes profit driven and is run like a business, bean counters will nix programs like welfare, because spending profits on taking care of the disenfranchised will piss off shareholders. CEO's or their equivalents will want to stifle dissent and get rid of anyone who publicly disagrees with the official corporate line. But how does one 'fire' a citizen? Execution or internment, perhaps?

Here in Canada we already have a Prime Minister who is only too happy to muzzle government scientists to stop them from sharing scientific results and conclusions with the public. ( ). I shudder to think of Stephen Harper as the CEO of "Canada Inc."

Comment Re: Yes (Score 2) 196

No. Get some solder paste, and a reflow oven (a $29 toaster oven from Walmart works fine). Surface mount is much faster than through-hole because you you just place the parts on the board with tweezers and pop it in the oven.

Heck, I do all of my SMT soldering with my trusty Hakko iron, although I'll use a big ugly heat gun for removing IC's. With a reservoir tip on my iron, (and lots of resin paste), I can even solder fine-pitch quads. If I was producing a lot of stuff I'd go with an oven, but in low volumes I do fine with just an iron.

Submission + - Are Apple, Google, Facebook about to profit from domestic violence? (

aybiss writes: On ABC's (Australia) The Drum tonight there was a story about the Australian Federal Govt pledging $100m towards domestic violence action. Part of the story involved the purchase of 20,000 'safe phones' which can be given to those escaping domestic violence so that they can't be tracked by GPS.

Do you think that the big tech companies have something to answer on this issue? I for one disable the entire feature and I'm not sure whether these phones simply won't have GPS or whether it is permanently disabled or simply turned off in the phones' settings, but surely instead of pledging to purchase MORE smartphones and either pay more for the phones to be specially made/setup or for someone to set them up, we should be demanding that phones explicitly ask every time they want to make someone's location public?

Comment Re:Open Hardware (Score 2) 134

Where is all the open-source "libre" hardware that we were promised 2-to-3 years ago?

Software programmers usually don't require very much beyond decent computers and sufficient time. Hardware designers ultimately require silicon fabs - it's expensive to even get production time in one, never mind to own one. And if you end up with a serious bug that didn't show up until the first chips came off the line, then it's big bucks all over again to fix it.

I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who donate their time and effort to create libre software, and I would never expect them to magically come up with the funds to create open hardware to go along with it. If you're so keen on libre hardware, why don't you get involved, do some research, and maybe start a crowd-funding effort?

There is no competition in hardware, anymore.

There is no real competition anywhere anymore, at least among large corporations. The best you'll find is 'co-opetition'. Why? Because so many people keep supporting broken models of governance, (if they bother to think about such things at all), and they keep bending over and lubing up to make it easy for multi-nationals to have their way. They have a captive market, (courtesy of our indifference), so it's both easier and cheaper for them to dispense with real competition altogether and just pay lip service to it instead.

Comment Re:Why invent a new word? (Score 3, Interesting) 81

Corporations and Individuals should not have to "answer" to the Head of State, only to the Law. Quite the opposite in fact- it is the Heads of State who should be held accountable to the Citizens, and the Laws should hold only as much power as the Population grants them.

I would agree with you if you didn't equate corporations with citizens. Perhaps corporations shouldn't have to answer to heads of state, but they bloody well ought to answer to government. The hierarchy should have citizens at the top, followed by the government in the middle, with corporations on the bottom. We've allowed that order to be reversed, and we're paying the price.

Comment Re:Translation: (Score 1) 81

We have another newspeak term: 'diversity', as any individual daring to identify as an individual or, worse, act in his own interest, is obviously a racist, sexist 'imperialist' pig dead set on world domination.

Gee, maybe I'm wrong, but I always thought 'diversity' strongly implied and endorsed individuality - especially given that one antonym of 'diversity' is 'conformity'.

If the political culture in western countries still respected individual rights over groupthink knee jerking, we wouldn't have half the privacy concerns we do.

Does the article really strike you as "groupthink knee jerking"? If so, then wouldn't you at least apply the same criticism to the corporate world, so much of which is the epitome of groupthink?

I agree that we need to restore a political culture that respects individual rights. But I don't think that the people who champion diversity, (and whom you liken to Communists), are enemies of individual rights. In fact, I believe they're quite the opposite. Yes, people who push for political correctness sometimes go too far - but who doesn't? And honestly, I don't think the terms 'colonialism' and 'imperialism' are too strong for the corporate dominance trends I'm seeing every day.

Comment Re:Oh no no no! (Score 1) 103

are you really going to oppose things like the Rainbow papaya (university made, by the University of Hawai'i & Cornell University), Golden Rice (NGO made, by the International Rice Research Institute), Bt eggplant (government made, by Bangladesh), ect. on the basis that someone else is doing something wrong with the same technology?

I think the concern here is that, even with the best of intentions and with GMO foods that in the short term provide great benefits, we still can't be sure we're not missing something crucial. Potential problems from GMO foods, (such as possibly bad genetic modifications showing up in the human genome as a result of food genes that likely wouldn't have occurrred outside of a laboratory), might not show up for years, or even a generation or two. And they might even not be immediately traceable to GMO foods.

There's a lot we don't know about the potential long-term effects of GMO foods. Should we be doing these experiments on human subjects, often without the informed consent of said subjects?

Comment Re:Jettison != Outsourcing (Score 2) 273

How do you stop a transnational corporation from moving jobs to other countries in an age of big-dollar corporate lobbying?

Perhaps I'm naive, but I always thought this could be accomplished by political leaders who had the integrity and the balls to actually represent the best interests of the majority of their constituents. If a company's ability to sell its products and services in a country were dependent on the number and quality of jobs it provided in that country, (as tended to be the case before globalization was rammed up our asses with the promise that it would be 'better for everyone'), then we wouldn't be bleeding so many jobs to "low-cost countries". And guess what? There'd still be enough wealth left over to help break the poverty cycle in impoverished countries, if it wasn't all being eaten up by spurious wars, political corruption, and other sundry wealth concentration schemes.

The death knell for a just society was sounded on the day that corporations like HP gained all the rights, (and more) of individual citizens, with little or none of the corresponding responsibility.

Comment Re:shear stupitity (Score 1) 89

These films are so poor on performance, you can put 3-4 real solar panels on the roof and make the same energy.

This may be true for the time being, but solar window efficiency will likely be improved over time. Plus they're not likely to be covered by snow. Plus that's a lot of available surface area, and a lot of redundancy, to take advantage of. Plus it may be possible to use the power they generate close to the source of that power, reducing resistive power loss and, potentially, conversion loss.

They would not block sunlight from entering the building.

FTA, (and from the sub-heading no less): "Not only do solar windows produce power, but some reduce heat". So yes, they can reduce heat load. Admittedly, this would be a disadvantage in Winter - OTOH, it tends to be cheaper to heat a building than to cool it.

We are not lacking good solar panels for roofs. We are lacking utilities that will let us connect to the grid our parents paid for years ago.

The 'big grid' idea is about a century old. Except as a supplier to heavy industry, (and possibly as a backup to local power generation - now there's a switch!), it needs to be retired. As far as possible we should generate and store power locally, using micro-grids as necessary for purposes of redundancy. Such an approach would be more efficient, *much* more resilient, and greener - not to mention that it would make electrical utilities and their parasitic ways all but obsolete.

Comment Re:Agree with content, not the name (Score 1) 237

I have no idea why you would want to call "classical education" something other than the name it has held for centuries.

That was just ignorance on my part - until I looked it up in response to your reply I thought 'classical education' was simply about a broadly-based, eclectic education which views all knowledge as inter-related. I was unaware of the whole 'trivium' thing, so thank you for challenging what I wrote.

I also have no idea why you would call the Industrial system something other than it's name for nearly a century (it was the Prussian system prior).

I was being pejorative, and perhaps a bit of an asshole as well. I feel that the term 'Industrial Education' hides the nature of the beast; I see it as training for particular tasks in order to fill specific roles in a way that benefits those at the top of the social hierarchy more than it does those in the middle or at the bottom. To my mind 'job training' is more in keeping with what I see as the strongly utilitarian nature of Industrial Education.

I perceive it as pompous, and believe it only muddies the waters for a rational discussion.

Sorry about that. I guess I fell into the sound-bite mode of discussion that seems so prevalent today. That aside, I truly am interested in honest and open dialog about such things.

The last part I agree with, and will simply say this is a historical normal. Knowledge is power, and just like other forms of power certain people attempt to hoard and prevent access to others.

Have you read any of Morris Berman's books? If not, then I recommend 'The Reenchantment of the World' and 'Wandering God'. They have a lot to say about what human consciousness might have been like before we learned to store wealth and before we developed strongly vertical social hierarchies.

Be careful when a loop exits to the same place from side and bottom.