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Comment Re:GOOD GRIEF! (Score 1) 531

If you want a real mindfuck, try looking up what sucralose is.

Stuff messes with my head like a psychotropic drug and gives my Mom diarrhea to the point that she avoids it, and this is an old lady who trusts ALL medicines and food additives implicitly and yet this one she shies away from, due to bad experiences.

Use that science and chemistry background to tell you whether you're familiar with sucralose, go on. It's in EVERYTHING these days. It's in stuff that's already loaded with sugar and HFCS. Read labels and then read what the stuff is.

Comment Re:They certainly are a criminal organisation... (Score 3, Insightful) 466

More like the high cost of medallions is the free market assigning value.

Back when there was no limit on the number of taxis, there was thirty thousand taxis in New York, all breaking down and crappy. The medallions are literally about fixing the number of taxis, because when the free market decided how many taxis there should be, it clogged all the streets with taxis and New York City broke.

I realize it's a scary and new thought that the free market can cough up a totally wrong answer, but that's what happened. More often than not, the free market coughs up a hairball rather than an optimal answer, mostly because it cannot cope with externalities: it's short-term like the stock market.

How many times do we have to go through this nonsense? I'll give you this, however, it's good at 'disrupting'. Too bad that's not long-term useful.

Comment Re:They certainly are a criminal organisation... (Score 1, Insightful) 466

Taxi medallions costing hundreds of thousands of dollars aren't an idea, they're the free market. If you don't like it, that might be a hint that you've learned something about the free market, and don't like that as much as you thought. It's nothing more than the natural setting of a price for a situation that's otherwise restricted. From Slate:

Things weren't always this way. When New York City first issued taxi medallions in 1937, they were just licenses, worth $150 in today’s terms. In the years after, life was pretty good for cabbies, as it was for many low-skill employees in postwar America. Some drivers owned their cabs. The rest were unionized employees who worked on commission and received a full slate of employee benefits.

Crucially, the owners were in the taxi business and took on the risk that entailed. If gas prices went up, that came out of the owners’ pockets. If drivers had a bad shift, the owners did too.

All that began to change in 1979. That year, New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission changed its rules to allow medallions to be leased out for 12-hour shifts, making cabdrivers “independent contractors” under federal labor laws. The move cost such drivers their benefits, but the real fallout was far more profound. Even for medallion owners who operated their own taxi fleets, the economic value of the right to pick up fares was now severed from the value of actually doing so.

Uber is nothing more than a replacement medallion system in which capital interests lobby the system to get what they want. It hangs the drivers out to dry as much as Great Depression taxicabs ever did, and replaces private medallion ownership as a speculative investment with corporate market domination as a mode of disruption. It's not an alternative to the medallion system, it's a consolidation and doubling down of the mechanisms that made the medallion system what it is.

Comment Re:All about Taxi Laws (Score 3, Insightful) 466

People working as musicians and sound engineers know 'sharing culture' as 'we will never get paid again, because mp3s replaced all the superior media people used to pay money to have'. These things cut various ways, and while your classic Stallman type 'code ideas are free' sharing is clearly about promoting understanding and collective knowledge for the betterment of all, in a capitalist system that is only one of many values to be weighed.

Get rid of money and you'll see 'sharing culture'. Using 'sharing culture' to help a psychotic corporation obliterate the world's applecart as far as livery services, is an exploit and has nothing to do with the 'collective knowledge' thing anymore.

Comment Re:An argument (Score 1) 466

Yes, indeed it is. Uber will be able to sue Germany, and so on, and countries will not get to function democratically and make their own rules within their borders.

Uber clearly is getting a running head-start on how they'll act on that day, which is predictable.

I doubt they'll do the most damage, but it's fascinating to see how libertarian fantasies of 'disrupt everything!' play out in reality.

Comment Re:Are they people? (Score 1) 166

I suppose that depends on whether you consider there is ANY utility to the concept of the common good.

If you totally abandon that idea and make everything about self-interest, then naturally you will see all decisions as an expression of some self-interested person's taking advantage, or alternately see them as insane, unpredictable and rather scary.

If you consider that there can be ANY sort of a common or collective good, then the concept of illegality isn't too difficult. It's like murder: in some sense, somebody is unreasonably imposed upon by somebody else's whim or convenience. We call that 'crime' or 'illegal' because collectively we think it's bad to leave that up to people's individual whims, because people can be crazy or severely impaired or form weird, unreasonable ideas.

like 'illegal because someone in power isn't getting a little extra jingle in their pockets because of it'.

Comment Re:Cat and mouse game... (Score 1) 166

To a working musician, you are a Somali pirate. The internet disrupted commercial music composition and performance so much that it's now useless to get involved in unless you're a hobbyist. Pre-internet, if you knew what you were doing you could earn a living nearly as good as a skilled accountant, but those days are gone.

The same is happening to computer games thanks to disruptive technologies such as game development kits (think Unity and Unreal Engine) that democratize those forms of creation.

Again: cry buggy whip makers all you want, provided you can either come up with that Star Trek future where everybody's fed and housed with replicators, or alternately abandon competitive economic models such as market capitalism and go with something like Basic Income so money turns into purely a means for a human to express its wishes, whatever they might be.

If you both disrupt everything not nailed down, AND run a market capitalist economy that punishes losers to make them fight harder, you're evil. You're setting up a Hunger Games thing where you're trying to kill off the unfit, but the definition of 'unfit' is insanely broad and will catch nearly everybody in time.

Because it's a lot easier to disrupt than to build. Disrupting is not the hard thing. Vandalism is disruptive, but nobody (usually) gets all giddy about that.

Comment Re:Not w/ substandard service/working conditions (Score 1) 166

I think the word you're having trouble with is 'customer'. Consider, if you can, the idea that for nearly any concievable corporation, the rest of the people in the world are not in any sense 'customers'. They're what's technically called 'bystanders'.

Carry on like that and you'll be calling yourself Google's, or Facebook's 'customer' when in fact you are their 'product'.

However, nice try!

Comment Re:How dare they! (Score -1, Troll) 166

Competition can lead to pyrrhic victory. Perfectly streamlined competition with the widest possible net of competitors ALWAYS leads to pyrrhic victory.

If there's a special case where somebody is willing to throw their life away to be the victor and stomp all their enemies, competition will find that person and put them in a position to trash everything around them, give too much, and 'win' unsustainably and uselessly.

Darn right regulation is about restricting competition, because civilization and 'law of the jungle' don't get along. It's almost always possible to cosh some poor bugger and gain competitive advantage, but it doesn't benefit society when everybody's going around with massive head injuries.

I mean, look at the USA. Do you want to be like them?!? :)

Comment Re:Cat and mouse game... (Score 3, Interesting) 166

Thanks, bro. They're reading this and you're proposing extortion, which they are totally fine with. You've just given them more weapons.

I'm rooting for the Aussies, because this is stupid. Every other industry I've seen 'disrupted' in this way has ended in a race to the bottom and ceasing to even be an industry anymore.

The only way I'll buy this 'Uber disruptiveness uber alles' foolishness is if you go full Star Trek and abolish money. Everyone, ride free everywhere you want to go, on Uber's well, there are no dimes anymore. With Uber's blessing!

Failing that, you're just a bunch of Somali pirates. The end game is either Trek utopia, or a mind-mangling dystopia of total surveillance and techno-feudalism, with nearly everybody on the planet as the serfs.

Assuming humans even count as people! Imagine if AI begins running corporations this way. Very quickly humans will be outclassed and the only people with money will be literally thinking corporations. And they don't need to drive anywhere, so goodbye Uber.

Comment Re:Next Big Thing? (Score 1) 233

We used to refer to these as 'Enron'. Failure is not quite the term for it, things can fail quietly.

To 'Enron' means, crank up a corporate culture full of libertarian bravado breaking all the rules you can in order to build a valuation bubble that you use to push things harder and harder until somebody significant gets caught in a position they can't weasel out of, for whatever reason.

At that point, the top bosses first tell all their employees to buy all the stock they can get their hands on, and then as the thing begins to collapse, lock the employees out of transactions (still not sure how Enron managed that but it's on record they did) while the bosses dump all their stock, driving the price to a hundredth or a thousandth of what it was by the time the employees and regular investors can bail out.

Uber will be doing this too, the only question is when and why. Maybe the new velocity of information will cause these 'unicorns' (as a unicorn fancier, I'm offended and suggest 'Enrons' as a more suitable monicker) to pop quicker?

Comment Re:It's the marketplace, stupid! (Score 1) 233

"Enroned"? That's where we first heard of 'rank and yank'. We can say IT departments are trying to avoid getting Enroned: obliterated by a thing made of market capitalization that embodies toxic and perverse outcomes, destined to be spectacularly self-destroyed after doing incalculable damage to society.

Uber is Enron redux, complete with rewriting the rules to its own benefit, completely dependent on its own valuation to continue cancerously expanding or blow up. It'd probably be better for everybody if it blew up or got blown up quickly, rather than spawning a whole class of 'unicorn' act-alikes.

Terrorists 'disrupt'. This whole twist on advanced-stage capitalism is perverse as hell.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (9) Dammit, little-endian systems *are* more consistent!