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Comment: Re:Leaders (Score 0) 63

If they don't know what they are doing, then why are they the leaders?

Because they have access to the biggest club. They claim Earth's resources as their own, and can back that claim with (outsourced) violence, so everyone else either obeys or starves. Actual competence in using those resources is irrelevant.

Besides, it's not like they're actually in charge - market logic or the "Invisible Hand" is. They have some leeway in interpreting its will, and particularly competent ones can sometimes even suggest a course of action, but ultimately they are just pampered slaves.

An executive's job is a purely ritualistic one: they're posing for the public while interpreting orders from high. The only real difference between them and, say, an Aztec high priest is that the Invisible Hand wants its victims starved rather than TempleofDoomed, which is less messy. Well, currently they victims are mostly just made destitute rather than outright killed, but born-again InvisibleHanders are working hard to change that.

Of course, the real problem with this scenario is that the Invisible Hand is not self-aware and can't think ahead, so the end result is that no one is in charge. Explains a lot, eh?

Comment: Re:Context (Score 1) 59

by nitehawk214 (#49784759) Attached to: SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches

That is a good point, Orbital ATK was more of a vertical integration move. This seems like it is more possible to create efficiency instead of trying to screw the customer (the US government) out of more money.

Though it is a nice system. Thiokol got government contracts to build way too many ICBMs, and Orbital gets contracts to turn those ICBMs into satellite launchers.

Either way, they understand the future is their own completely new rockets. Antares will be flying again soon.

Comment: Re:Context (Score 2) 59

by nitehawk214 (#49783955) Attached to: SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches

ULA was the result of exactly this. The four biggest aerospace companies all merged into two, Boeing/McDonald Douglass and Lockheed/Martin, then those two formed ULA as a joint venture. This is why ULA's Delta and Atlas are entirely different systems. They were created by different companies. They realized it was smart to not compete since they had nearly all big military launches.

Presumably their next rocket, Vulcan, will be a replacement for both Delta and Atlas.

Also, Alliant bought Orbital to form Orbital ATK, doing the exact same thing.

Comment: Snooping Programs a help (Score 2) 351

by Jason Levine (#49783773) Attached to: Obama Asks Congress To Renew 'Patriot Act' Snooping

the FBI is unable to name a single terror case in which the snooping provisions were of much help

"There was that one case... and the other one... then there was that case with the thing... and the person with the other thing... Yeah, we need to keep this running."

The problem with this program (from an FBI-perspective, not a privacy one) is that it floods them with too much data. There's a false notion that since data is good that more data is always good. Not all data is good data. You need to go through it and find the useful parts. As you get more and more data, you eventually become unable to weed through the data to extract the good parts. You either wind up ignoring it entirely (and thus missing good data coming in) or you grab hold of any data point you can find without properly vetting it (due to no manpower for that step) and wind up chasing down phantom leads.

That's why a properly limited (warrant-based) system would not only be better for privacy, but would actually be better for national security.

Comment: Re:Nonsense (Score 2) 351

by Jason Levine (#49783693) Attached to: Obama Asks Congress To Renew 'Patriot Act' Snooping

In reality, it's even worse, as requiring the telecoms to keep this data guarantees that the telecoms will use that data -- so the end result is an expansion of the the amount of spying that is being inflicted on us.

Exactly this. Government spying on its citizens is bad, don't get me wrong. However, there are remedies for this. It isn't easy, but you CAN vote out the current government and vote in people who will end the spying. Again, it's not easy and it might take time, but it's doable.

Suppose AT&T and Verizon have this big database that they are required to maintain, however, and the government just "checks in" and searches it now and then. They need to maintain the database so (they figure), why not also profit off of it? What's to keep them from running some searches to find ways of extracting more money out of people when the (stated) purpose of the database was national security? And how do we keep them from abusing a database that they maintain in-house? By switching carriers to another carrier required to keep the same database and likely doing the same thing?

It would be better to keep this program in government hands but with some very strict checks and balances in place. Even better would be to shut it down, but if it needs to be kept - which I highly doubt, mind you - I'd prefer it government-run than corporate-run.

Comment: Re:Get rid of it (Score 2) 351

by Jason Levine (#49783573) Attached to: Obama Asks Congress To Renew 'Patriot Act' Snooping

There is a difference between Campaign Politician and Elected Politician. Campaign Politician seeks to get as many people to vote for him/her as possible and so is willing to promise nearly anything. If Campaign Politician thought it would win them votes, they would pledge to have the federal government give everyone a free cute puppy.

When Campaign Politician transitions to Elected Politician, however, many (if not all) of those promises get forgotten. Instead Elected Politician will do whatever he/she can to increase his/her political power. This can mean listening to lobbyists, enacting laws to protect businesses that donate to Elected Politician, and working with other Elected Politicians to keep other Elected Politicians down. Sometimes, Elected Politician will actually abide by a few campaign promises, but this is more because Elected Politician knows that eventually he/she will need to become Campaign Politician again and these followed promises will help.

Occasionally, Campaign Politician will make a promise that Elected Politician will realize is impossible to enact, but this is more of a failing of Campaign Politician to keep from making unrealistic promises than anything else. See the "free puppies" example above. It sounds nice until you get to the real world and figure out costs, logistics, other politicians with alternative plans - free kittens - and groups for whom free puppies wouldn't be a good thing (e.g. people with allergies).

Comment: Re:Sure, let's make everything tiered (Score 1) 360

The reporting on this is very muddled, but at least one article says that the car was not in "self-parking" mode, so the pedestrian detection would not have been active even if this car had it.

So does this mean Volvo sells a configuration that 1) has a computer control the car in small, enclosed spaces and 2) doesn't hae said computer look for obstacles, and specifically not humans?

Comment: Re:Freeze your credit. Problem solved. (Score 2) 82

by Jason Levine (#49779309) Attached to: IRS: Personal Info of 100,000 Taxpayers Accessed Illegally

That's what we did when my identity was stolen. My name, address, SSN, and DOB were used to open a card in my name. I was lucky and the credit card company sent it to me (due to the thieves paying for rush delivery) instead of processing the address change and sending it to the thieves. It's a pain when I want to use my credit (refinance mortgage, buy a car, etc), but most days I don't need to touch my credit and don't want anyone else touching it either.

Of course, the credit agencies don't like when you freeze your credit. Frozen credit files are less profitable (can't sell them to credit card companies hawking even more lines of credit) and so they like pushing "fraud alerts" instead. These expire every 90 days unless you renew them and are voluntary. If I were a credit card company opening a line of credit on someone, it's recommended that I check the fraud alert, but I could just ignore it, open the credit line, and suffer no consequences.

To credit agencies and credit card companies, identity theft is an inconvenience that you just write off. No big deal. To the victim, though, it's a horrible experience. I felt completely violated knowing that someone was walking around with my private information, pretending to be me, and doing their best to run up a huge tab to send my way.

Comment: Re:Very Serious (Score 2) 82

by Jason Levine (#49779269) Attached to: IRS: Personal Info of 100,000 Taxpayers Accessed Illegally

I've done some research on the topic, being a victim of identity theft myself. From what I understand, the person who steals the identity rarely uses the stolen identity. Instead, they sell it to someone else who then uses it. This way, the real thief gets some quick cash with less risk of getting caught - especially if it's an inside job. (e.g. Someone in HR at your company downloads your company's employee records to a USB drive and decides to make a little money on the side.) Meanwhile, the people using the stolen identities can run up a big tab on the stolen credit lines without needing to do any messy hacking of computer systems. It's a win-win for the criminals - and a lose-lose for the person whose identity was stolen.

Comment: Union what. (Score 1) 279

by nitehawk214 (#49779031) Attached to: Amtrak Installing Cameras To Watch Train Engineers

I think the union just acknowledged that nobody is safe with their drivers, no matter what. Shameful that they are pressing the attack in light of the fact that one of their drivers is responsible.

No I am using the term "drivers" divisively. If they truly were engineers, they would be demanding safety protocols to be implemented and equipment to be installed.

Comment: Re:Automatic presumption of govt incompetence... (Score 2) 180

by Jason Levine (#49775569) Attached to: Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable

I have one ISP choice also. In my case, Time Warner Cable. I've got to not only agree with your points, but expand on one of them. Cable ISPs not only offer Internet access but also offer TV/Video services. They want to push their video services and will often engage in various shady practices to promote their video services above alternatives (Internet Video, satellite, etc). For example, they might institute caps to prevent you from streaming "too much" (as defined by them). Overage fees might make streaming more expensive so you'll either flee back to your cable company for video or pay your cable company more money in overage fees. Package pricing can be manipulated to make Internet Only more expensive than Internet+TV (while TV alone isn't more than Internet+TV). Finally, as mentioned before, the ISP can fiddle with the traffic to slow down or otherwise degrade connections to video services like Netflix knowing that it will be easier for customers to switch to another video provider (*cough* cable TV *cough*) than it is to switch to another ISP - since there usually is no other one to switch to!

Would a government run ISP be perfect? Of course not. I'm open to any and all suggestions. However, something needs to be done because company-alone, minimal government regulation ISPs have clearly resulted in monopolistic ISPs willing to abuse customers to get more money.

The solution of this problem is trivial and is left as an exercise for the reader.