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Comment: other enforcement? (Score 1) 121

by meeotch (#49313781) Attached to: FTC's Internal Memo On Google Teaches Companies a Terrible Lesson

What "other enforcement"? o.k., presumably the FTC is doing other things with their time than just antitrust. But if you're talking about getting the largest enforcement effect for your tax dollar, wouldn't going after a huge company be a good buy? 1) big company = big effect (in $) on the market. 2) big company = big news = littler companies telling themselves, "Well, if google can't get away with it, than neither can we."

I'd be interested to see the actual numbers behind this comment. It smells to me like not just a case of maximum efficiency, but rather a total imbalance in the numbers. Either google is so huge that they can outspend the U.S. Government - in which case, um, antitrust? Or alternatively, it's code for, "We're stretched so thin that we genuinely can't do our job."

But, hey - limited government, right? Thank God we don't have fascist socialist muslim regulators preventing Google from coming up with yet another half-baked product that they abandon as soon as someone finds it useful.

Comment: my lightbulbs are on the internet! (Score 1) 163

by meeotch (#48740053) Attached to: Nest Will Now Work With Your Door Locks, Light Bulbs and More

My primary objection (and others' as well, judging by the comments on this story) is having all my network-aware toasters and lightbulbs and whatnot connecting to systems outside of my house.

Does anyone know of an alternative with the same plug-it-in-and-it-just-works-ness, but with a more sensible scheme that lets me run without an internet connection? Or better still, with a single, secure internet-facing control, and everything else just talking in-house?

Secondary objection is that iirc (maybe just early versions), the Nest had no "dumb mode", where I could just set the schedule myself, preferably with a motion-sensor override in case I wake up or arrive home early. Again, is there a plug-and-play alternative that does this?

Ideal would be plug-and-play, but also scriptable via python or something in case I want to get fancy later on.

I know there are gajillion home automation standards / systems, and that I can roll my own from stone knives and bearskins - but honestly, it's overwhelming trying to sort through all the options. So please skip the "google it" style replies, if you can.

Comment: Brilliant! (Score 5, Insightful) 162

by meeotch (#48566283) Attached to: An Algorithm To Prevent Twitter Hashtag Degeneration

Now, if only Slashdot had some sort of a system whereby submitted stories could be rated "thoughtful", or perhaps "not written by Bennett Haselton", thus preventing the front page from degenerating due to stupid, or offensive, or offensively stupid contributions.

Seriously - what is this, some sort of test to see how many screen-inches can be filled with the random bleatings of one jackass, before it impacts readership numbers? Like slashdot's version of the "cinnamon challenge"?

+ - 35% of (American) Adults Have Debt "In Collections" 1

Submitted by meeotch
meeotch (524339) writes "According to a new study by the Urban Institute, 35% of U.S. adults with a credit history (91% of the adult population of the U.S.) have debt "in collections" — a status generally not acquired until payments are at least 180 days past due. Debt problems seem to be worse in the South, with states hovering in the 40%+ range, while the Northeast has it better, at less than 30%. The study's authors claim their findings actually underrepresent low-income consumers, because "adults without a credit file are more likely to be financially disadvantaged."

Oddly, only 5% of adults have debt 30-180 days past due. This latter fact is partially accounted for by the fact that a broader range of debt can enter "in collections" status than "past due" status (e.g. parking tickets)... But also perhaps demonstrates that as one falls far enough along the debt spiral, escape becomes impossible. Particularly in the case of high-interest debt such as credit cards — the issuers of which cluster in states such as South Dakota, following a 1978 Supreme Court ruling that found that states' usury laws did not apply to banks headquartered in other states.

Even taking into account the folks to lost a parking ticket under their passenger seat, 35% is a pretty shocking number. Anyone have other theories why this number is so much higher than the 5% of people who are just "late"? How about some napkin math on the debt spiral? (And unfortunately, cue the inevitable geek snobbery about how people in debt must be "idiots".)"

Comment: heritage report (Score 1) 63

by meeotch (#47401873) Attached to: IBM Tries To Forecast and Control Beijing's Air Pollution

In response to concerns both about possible export of American technologies to China as a result of IBM's involvement, and claims by climate scientists that emissions in China contribute significantly to global warming, think tank The Heritage Foundation released the following report:

"Heh, heh - His name is 'Dong'. Heh."

Comment: say what you will... (Score 4, Insightful) 105

by meeotch (#47381999) Attached to: London Regulator Says Uber Is Operating Legally

...agree with the decision or disagree. But what's the deal with every legal matter, ever, requiring the involved parties to make public statements that sound like they're on the junior high debate team?

"The decision was welcomed by Uber's general manger as a 'victory for common sense, technology, innovation - and above all, London.'" No - the end of WWII was a victory for London. This is just one more thing Londoners can spend their money on.

"Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia said, 'We are disappointed in the outcome, but our work is not done. We will continue to fight for our consumers and fight to create innovative technologies that have a meaningful and positive impact on our world." No, you're basically a cable company. A meaningful impact would be finding a cure for Alzheimer's.

Are canned statements like this actually effective in convincing the public that your pet project is inextricably linked to the survival of humanity itself? 'Cause to me, they just make you sound like a disingenuous prick.

Even better: this cliche soundbite garbage seems to be the only language spoken by our elected representatives, as well. Why not hire an orchestra to play ominous music in the background, while you're at it? It saddens me to see supposed leaders and captains of industry acting like pre-teens. It speaks poorly of us as a race.

Comment: Re:Not about consumption, but about sales (Score 2) 532

by meeotch (#47338291) Attached to: NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks

Way to pick a tangential item to shoot down. Yes, you win - you can put together a meal that's only half a day's calories. If you're carrying around that pdf you linked on your phone... or you know - if the government forces them to put it on the damn menu.

I think you've just proved my point.

Comment: Re:Not about consumption, but about sales (Score 1) 532

by meeotch (#47331047) Attached to: NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks

It's cheaper than most other options for eating out, or ordering in, or buying processed and easily cookable meals, if you don't have the time or energy to buy and cook a healthy meal every night, nor the money to buy one. How many people do you know that live off of a bag of apples, and rice, and maybe chicken? I make six figures, and I still barely ever eat fish, because it's so damn expensive. A lot of healthy food is expensive, and eating just the staples requires a fair amount of willpower, when you can just order Domino's.

Obviously, obese people who have money and choose to eat garbage are buying it for other reasons. Feel free to pick one from my post above.

Comment: Re:Not about consumption, but about sales (Score 2) 532

by meeotch (#47330409) Attached to: NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks

Oh, and btw - I live in NYC, and personally, I think the soda ban was an inept attempt at being helpful. A massive education campaign would be better. But that costs money. And making the calorie info on packaged food more visible, like with chain restaurants, could only really be done at the national level.

And that would require some sort of giant entity with the power to spend billions of dollars, or enact legislation for the whole country. Too bad.

Comment: Re:Not about consumption, but about sales (Score 5, Informative) 532

by meeotch (#47330377) Attached to: NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks

>> If a patron wanted, there was nothing stopping them from buying, say, 3 x 16fl oz drinks and gulp that all up. Alternatively, there was nothing stopping them from getting one 16fl oz drink and going for refills.
>> This was entirely on businesses, disallowing them to sell anything over 16fl oz.

This. Are people enraged and screaming "Tyranny!" about smoking bans and requiring cigarette packages to bear warnings? Largely, no. Why? Because aside from a lot of us either disliking second-hand smoke, or being a smoker and being unable to quit, the general consensus is that Big Tobacco was pretty evil - peddling a harmful and addictive product, and Big Government was the only one who could stop them.

See the analogy here? The (mostly large) corporations that provide our food have been pumping more and more high fructose corn syrup & fat into their products, and making them bigger and bigger. o.k., so you argue that they're just giving the people what they want. But that shit is *addictive* - just ask your local fatass sysadmin who lives on Monster and Doritos. Or go somewhere poor and count the obese people. Those people have a lot less "choice" - because Coke and McDonald's is *cheap*, in addition to being delicious.

In NYC (I think it's local), all chain restaurants are required to put calorie counts right next to the food on signs/menus, just like the cigarette companies. I fucking love McDonalds, but I stopped eating there. I'm a supposedly educated, well-off person with a relatively higher amount of "freedom" than some citizens. And I didn't know that almost everything on their menu was a *full day's* allotment of calories, until the Gubmint made them advertise it. (Since then, they've tacked on more lower-cal items, which is good.)

The reality is, advertising, doctoring of products to be addictive, and good ole' disingenuousness ("serving size: 8oz, servings per package: 2" on a can of Monster. What - do I put the other half in the fridge for later?), etc. is used to peddle crap to us all.

o.k., this is the basic nature of selling, you say. (Except for that goofy "make a better product" idea that some nuts espouse.) It's been that way forever. Fine. But when fully *one third* of us are obese, including tons of kids, and when the entities that are selling the stuff are so large that we couldn't possibly take them on, even together, then it's time for the one giant entity that exists to look out for us to level the fucking playing field. Who's going to argue that HFCS and ubiquitous advertising is somehow not manipulative? The gov't is just doing it's (relatively tiny) bit to help us choose to not be manipulated, just like with cigarettes & liquor.

I see the slippery slope - really. I used to be a card-carrying conservative. I'm still registered Republican, for crissake (though I've voted third party in every election since G.W.) But *everything* is a goddamn slippery slope - and a lot steeper in many cases. Why not take the energy you're wasting going full Enraged Libertarian on fucking soda issues, and point it at eternally renewable copyright legislation, or anti-pot laws - or, you know, the police state - by calling your congressthingies.

TL/DR: The gov't has a mandate to provide for the General Welfare. Obesity is an epidemic problem in this country. Making people think about their choices is *helping*, not fascism. Even at the cost of corps making slightly less money. Even if it's more expensive for the country, not less (see other posts for numbers.) And you can still drink 70oz. of Mountain Dew if you want, fatass.

Nothing happens.