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Comment: Re:well then it's a bad contract (Score 4, Insightful) 284

by Solandri (#49563901) Attached to: ESPN Sues Verizon To Stop New Sports-Free TV Bundles

It's a horrible contract if it purports to require that consumers pay ESPN even if they don't want it. In fact, that's arguably illegal.
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Sorry, but ESPN has no legal standing to force the consumers of Verizon to essentially have a package which kicks back to ESPN.

You've got this backwards. The consumer has no standing because they never contracted with ESPN. The contract is between ESPN and Verizon. Customers are never paying ESPN. Verizon is paying ESPN. Customers are paying Verizon, but that doesn't give them standing on a contract between ESPN and Verizon. Just like if you bought something from Walmart, that doesn't give you standing to modify Walmart's wages to their employees.

Legally, the proper solution is for Verizon to charge all customers enough so that they can fulfill their contractual obligation to ESPN. If their contract says they need to pay ESPN $10/mo per customer (regardless of whether they view ESPN), then Verizon just needs to pay that and they've satisfied the terms of their contract with ESPN.

If Verizon wants to then turn around and charge ESPN-viewing customers $20/mo to cover their shortfall (assuming half their customers don't want ESPN), then that is between Verizon and their customer, and ESPN has no standing. In fact that's probably what Verizon is going for here - they're trying to collect real data on exactly what percentage of their customers are willing to pay for ESPN and how much, so they can use those figures for negotiations with ESPN.

That should get you a RICO conviction. Because if someone says "oh, sorry, but we have a contract with my cousin Vinnie, and you have to pay him every time you buy something from us".

Totally different. Verizon isn't telling you to send a check to ESPN. They're offering you a price for your cable package, and you're agreeing to pay that price. If Verizon decides to use some of the money they received from you to pay ESPN or Vinnie or for hookers and blow, you have no standing. You got the cable package you wanted at a price you agreed to pay.

Comment: Re:I'd settle for appropriate brightness (Score 1) 94

by Solandri (#49563751) Attached to: Smart Headlights Adjust To Aid Drivers In Difficult Conditions

Those stupidly overbright headlamps that dazzle you could be replaced by ones that dim themselves when they see oncoming traffic.

Wouldn't this do that automatically? The mechanism shouldn't be able to distinguish between light being reflected off a snowflake, and light coming from another car. And will dim its headlight aimed at that location in both cases.

Comment: Re:Do not want (Score 1) 94

by Solandri (#49563729) Attached to: Smart Headlights Adjust To Aid Drivers In Difficult Conditions
What makes you think it'll be that expensive? A DLP projector does basically the same thing, and the DLP chip itself can be bought for a few bucks. All you need is a to pair it with a high-speed camera which picks out bright spots and immediately directs that individual DLP mirror away from that location.

I'm sure it'll be super-expensive when it first rolls out. But if the base technologies they're using are easily mass producible, it should get cheap quickly. The first flat screen TV hit the mass market just 17 years ago for over $20,000. You can now pick up a similar-sized one for about $400.

Comment: Re:You're not willing to pay (Score 1) 255

1) Huge landowning farmers are rich. On top of being rich, they get a lot of subsidies. They get the subsidies because, being rich, they can bribe politicians. This makes them richer, and more able to bribe. The EU is something I support entirely in principle, because trade is better than war, but in few areas has become more corrupt than subsidising landowners;

While I agree with the rest of what you say, farm subsidies are not entirely the result of corruption. They're a way for governments to tweak the supply/demand curve, so that there is a greater supply of food (farms) than demand. Farming is not like manufacturing, where you get an order 10,000 widgets so you manufacture 10,000 widgets. You plant enough crops to feed 10 million people, but if it turns out to be a bad year with crop failures and your yield is only enough for 9 million, well now you've got to decide between letting part of your population starve or putting everyone on rationing.

This can be avoided ahead of time if you subsidize farms to the point where they plant enough crops to feed 11 million. If it turns out to be a normal year and you have enough excess food for 1 million, that's preferable to being short food for 1 million. Turn it into feed for cattle (people won't complain about cheaper steaks), high fructose corn syrup, ethanol (which actually makes sense when done with excess corn instead of corn grown for the explicit purpose of turning into ethanol), and foreign aid. (Incidentally, this is why the U.S. pays some farmers not to grow any crops - if we suffer another Dust Bowl-like disaster, we'll have plenty of reserve farmland to fall back on the following year, but without upsetting food prices if there is no disaster this year.)

Comment: Re:well then it's a bad contract (Score 3, Informative) 284

by gstoddart (#49562981) Attached to: ESPN Sues Verizon To Stop New Sports-Free TV Bundles

It's not a horrible contract if both parties agreed to it

It's a horrible contract if it purports to require that consumers pay ESPN even if they don't want it. In fact, that's arguably illegal.

It's not good for the customer, but no one is forced to sign up for cable

Seriously? That's the best you have? It's OK for asshole cable companies to force you to buy something you don't want, and if you don't like that you're free to not have cable at all?

Complete and utter fucking nonsense.

Sorry, but ESPN has no legal standing to force the consumers of Verizon to essentially have a package which kicks back to ESPN.

That should get you a RICO conviction. Because if someone says "oh, sorry, but we have a contract with my cousin Vinnie, and you have to pay him every time you buy something from us".

Yeah, sorry. fuck that.

Comment: Re:Which patent trolls ... (Score 1) 37

This IS NOT a patent clearing house. Not by a long shot.

This is Google setting up a market place where people can offer to sell Google, and ONLY Google, the opportunity to buy patents. Nobody else will be able to purchase patents with this.

This is the Google looking to expand its own patent portfolio.

This has NOTHING to do with a bunch of mini patent trolls -- just one fucking big one.

Comment: Hmmm ... (Score 1) 284

by gstoddart (#49562845) Attached to: ESPN Sues Verizon To Stop New Sports-Free TV Bundles

Is ESPN somehow asserting that Verizon signed a contract requiring all of its customers receive ESPN?

Because that sounds like a load of horseshit to me.

This is all about broadcasters acting like their service is intrinsic to receiving cable, and that consumers should be required to subsidize their revenues.

Fuck you, ESPN.

Comment: Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 3, Interesting) 377

Even when you start with petroleum as your feedstock and only waste 10-15% of the energy it contains in refining and distribution, you've still got the car only turning 20% of the energy therein into useful kinetic energy (25% in the case of diesels), versus an average of about 85% of the electricty into kinetic energy (minus about 8% transmission losses), plus automatically gaining hybrid-style regen. Even if the process was 100% efficient - which it won't be anywhere even close to that - just the difference in propulsion technolgies would put the EV at 4 times the efficiency.

Slow down there. You're comparing the complete-cycle efficiency for petroleum to just the end-stage efficiency for electric. That electricity needs to be made somehow. Toss in 40% efficiency for coal plants (we'll leave out pumping/mining and fuel transport costs for now, assuming they're similar for oil and coal), battery charging efficiency of about 75% (discharge efficiency is unspecified, but since the EPA mileage estimates are based on battery capacity it's safe to ignore it), and the 85% motor efficiency you've specified, and suddenly your EV is .4*.75*.85 = 25.5% efficient. Same as a diesel.

This is the big thing a lot of EV proponents miss. Their EV is cheaper to operate not because the EV is more energy-efficient, but because coal is so much cheaper than gasoline. Coal costs about $50 per ton. A ton of coal has approximately 24 GJ of energy. That's about 0.21 cents/MJ. Gasoline costs about $3/gallon, and has about 120 MJ/gallon, or 2.5 cents/MJ. For the same amount of energy, coal is an order of magnitude cheaper than gasoline, which gives the EV a huge advantage in terms of operating costs. This is not a bad thing - being able to transfer a cheaper but traditionally static energy source into use in a mobile application is an economic win. But don't confuse it for better efficiency.

Yes you could argue that we can make electricity from renewables. But the vast majority of the cost of renewables is in the initial production of the turbine or PV panels. Operating costs are nearly nil (limited to maintenance). So for a fair comparison you then need to incorporate production and transport costs. At which point renewables lose because on a per Joule delivered basis, even with coal plants being only 40% efficient, coal is still cheaper than wind and solar power. (Wind is only about twice the costs of coal, so cheaper than gasoline, but I suspect solar would be about the same cost as gasoline.)

Comment: why not a web page? (Score 5, Insightful) 138

by gstoddart (#49562359) Attached to: Has the Native Vs. HTML5 Mobile Debate Changed?

So if you need a framework so you can pretend to have a native version of the application ... why not just focus on having a webpage instead of a shitty application which is just a web page?

This sounds like lazy people who want to claim they have an app, when all they're doing is pointing to a web page.

I can view your damned web page on my own.

Honestly, this is why I've started getting away from apps ... because as often as not they're badly written, and contain a fraction of the information I can get from the website, but still insist on having access to my contact list and messages.

Most people writing apps care more about invading my privacy and selling ads than actually providing me anything useful.

Comment: Which patent trolls ... (Score 0) 37

Sorry, but am I supposed to believe this will create anything other than a different kind of patent troll?

Putting a bunch more patents into Google's hands doesn't prevent them from being patent trolls. This is purely about letting Google buy more patents, not protecting us from patent trolls.

Greedy bastards.

Comment: Re:You're not willing to pay (Score 1) 255

Also, yes, we do buy more than we used to buy. That is called keeping the economy running, and if we weren't buying all those gadgets and trinkets and things *you* don't think are necessary our economy would be in even worse shape. As for the credit card debt, if wages were at least keeping even with what they have historically been people wouldn't have to fall back on so much credit debt now would they.

So what happens when credit cards are all maxed out and people have to lower their spending? Why companies will have to lay off people, leading to even less demand, leading to more layouts, and so forth until the economic tailspin turns into an outright economic and social collapse. Yet no company can unilaterally rise wages to ward off this disaster, because even if it made them more competitive due to a workforce that wouldn't hate them quite so much, the shareholders would complain, since the money could be going to them instead.

If only there were a party who could simply order everyone to rise wages, like it or not, to meet some kind of minimum standard high enough to keep the market working. Or, even better, simply pay a minimal income unconditionally to everyone.

"Joy is wealth and love is the legal tender of the soul." -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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