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Comment: Re:Sounds good (Score 1) 599

by rabbin (#49126945) Attached to: Republicans Back Down, FCC To Enforce Net Neutrality Rules
I agree that it is the first step but if the FCC did not plan to simultaneously remove the requirement of local loop unbundling (and other things, such as rate regulation), we would've been much better off. It shows that despite the public's concern over net neutrality, the FCC is ultimately still in the pocket of the telecoms.

I also agree that competition is the solution, but we may not agree on how it should come about. There are very few Googles out there that can afford these sort of high capital infrastructure projects and even google is limiting their rollout to only those places where it is very profitable. In other words, it is a natural monopoly. Thus we need local loop unbundling, and a separation of service providers from content providers and highly regulated infrastructure providers. Simply doing away with territorial exclusivity will not solve the problem.

Comment: Re:common man (Score 1) 194

by rabbin (#49108451) Attached to: The Imitation Game Fails Test of Inspiring the Next Turings
And since we can't all be superstars at X, only the people that are superstars at X should bother trying?

I don't think this is true. Most importantly, just because one's performance at something is not among the best doesn't mean one cannot find enjoyment in it (not to mention the people that are just good, good enough for employment in it, or even especially bad at it compared to others). And in life finding the things that are most enjoyable is probably the one of the most worthwhile things you can do (at least if you attribute any value to happiness). With programming and mathematics in particular, it is not always obvious that you enjoy them from the outset: how the subjects are presented can dramatically affect one's enjoyment of them, and there is often a hurdle you need to get over in order to discover the pleasure of participating.

This was especially true for myself: up until my first year of college, I hated mathematics and most intellectual pursuits. Then I had an enthusiastic instructor in college that (among other things) approached mathematics from the "pure" perspective rather than the "applied" and to say the least it was life changing. And from mathematics I learned the joy of learning for its own sake rather than simply for its "utility", and this blossomed into a passion for many other subjects I would have never dreamed I would enjoy. Now I spend the majority of my time on them (to many's confusion and sometimes frustration), but just imagine how much better my life could have been had I experienced such a teacher when I was, say, 8 years of age. On the other hand, perhaps another "authority figure" of my youth would have come along and shattered such a passion anyway with a statement like "a genius will accomplish more than you ever will, common man, so don't waste our time"

And, not that this was being argued, but I don't buy the argument that "All people that are interested in X naturally gravitate toward X regardless of all other external factors." In the case of programming or mathematics, such an external factor might be an anti-intellectual culture (such as in the U.S., Brazil, etc etc) or ignorant backwaters stuck in their own miniature "Dark Ages"--where e.g. deep-set insecurities or prejudices are cultivated.

Comment: Should fix chat so people actually use it first... (Score 0) 216

by rabbin (#49066159) Attached to: Valve Censoring Torrent References In Steam Chat
Maybe they should fix Steam Chat so people actually use it first? The only way that chat channels will stay populated and thus see any use is if there's a simple autojoin mechanism. It is silly that users have to manually join each individual chat room every time they start up Steam (they end result of course being that ... they don't). Right now you have groups with tens of thousands of members but no one joins the chat channel.

People have been asking for this since fucking 2008 ( ). And yes there are workarounds to make autojoin work but they don't apply here since the point is to give the average user a chance to join.

Until they get autojoin to work, Steam Chat will be practically useless, so the idea that considering its use for pirating games is quite silly.

Comment: Re:Don't get too excited (Score 4, Interesting) 379

by rabbin (#48981875) Attached to: Confirmed: FCC Will Try To Regulate Internet Under Title II
If only I had mod points. This is exactly my concern. It's as if they're dangling NN in front of us while slipping the rug out from under our feet.

From what I understand, the main problem is that we need to force the industry, kicking and screaming, to compete by "artificial" means because there is no naturally occuring free market (or anything close to it) in telecommunications. This is why the libertarian view of "if we only did away with franchise agreements granting territorial exclusivity..." wouldn't solve the main problem.

Comment: No last mile unbundling? (Score 2) 379

by rabbin (#48981337) Attached to: Confirmed: FCC Will Try To Regulate Internet Under Title II
Don't want to rain on the parade, but I'm hoping someone more knowledgeable can chime in here: Isn't last mile unbundling the main thing we need? Doesn't this reduce competition? (the main thing that the FCC needs to artficially induce in the natural monopoly that is telecommunications?)

I'm really hoping these "modernizations" of Title II aren't just a "compromise" where the industry makes out better anyway.

Comment: Re:Does it really matter now? (Score 1) 187

Agreed. The history of mathematics is interesting in itself, but should we as a society place so much emphasis on who was "first!"? It's simple chest thumping. Some may argue that it serves as a motivating factor, but I personally think that's a terrible idea as this is--in my experience with others at least--short lived and not very satisfying. Not to mention, just about every sensible person will find there are much better ways to feed that kind of impulse.

Instead, teach the joy of doing mathematics for its own sake. Compared to this sort of happiness, the egos of men aren't of much consequence.

Comment: Can others corroborate this? (Score 2) 376

by rabbin (#48445999) Attached to: Blame America For Everything You Hate About "Internet Culture"
Look, I love a good amount of "pointless" fun and frivolity, but my experience as a life long American is that 95% of people here don't want to ever talk about anything serious or consequential. I'm not talking about being a killjoy, a downer, or trying to shove unorthodox political views down someone's throat (most of the people I talk to share my general political views). Rather, let's say that just a couple of times a day I try to bring up a serious political issue that might affect how someone votes. By and large, whether offline or online (most of the day I'm working in a social environment with a variety changing faces), the response I usually get is either a kind of cold silence--as if I've destroyed the mood--or that I'm a loser for actually caring about something (i.e. sort of like "why are you talking about something serious when we could be having fun? We must be having fun at ALL TIMES!").

I have not experienced other cultures (never had the opportunity to leave the U.S.) and of course this is just my personal experience, but can any Europeans or other Americans chime in if they've experienced this sort of thing with Americans? If so, that could explain a lot about why our democracy is so dysfunctional (among other reasons, of course).

Comment: Voting for anyone who supports CFR (Score 1) 551

by rabbin (#48308481) Attached to: In this year's US mid-term elections ...
With some exceptions, I will vote for anyone who presents a compelling case that they support effective Campaign Finance Reform (e.g. public funding of elections, disclosure, rolling back Citizens United, much stricter lobbying laws, closing the revolving door, etc etc). I am actually left leaning--much farther left than the corporate Democrats, but if a candidate supports CFR I will vote for them even if they are Republican or Libertarian.

This is because I know nothing I care about will be addressed meaningfully until wealth has a lot less of a sway over the political process.

Comment: Over 3.5 million truckers in the US (Score 5, Insightful) 142

by rabbin (#47388455) Attached to: Autonomous Trucking
There are apparently over 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the US--that's over 1 out of every 100 Americans (see here ) . And while I assume this technology will initially support the driver rather than substitute them, eventually they *will* be substituted.

Now, I am not saying that I am against this technology or the vast multitude of other technologies that are replacing formerly human work--I think technology is a great thing which, used properly, can make life dramatically more enjoyable. However, I don't believe man at the individual level is infinitely adaptable to system that requires he/she hold an economic worth in order to survive (and live a good life) when technology is increasingly rendering nature's several billion year old creations uncompetitive. Our economic system as it currently is will leave these people unable to support themselves, and then you have poverty, crime, and death (and since I have empathy and I am not a sociopath, I think this needs to be avoided...)

Some US conservatives I know claim that this will not happen and man is infinitely adaptable as an individual (and a very small handful of others say the poverty, crime, and death is a good solution). Some US liberals I know claim that we should just drop technology altogether and return to a "simpler time." All three of these "solutions" are incredibly stupid, so fortunately most respond with "I don't know." I personally look forward to a future where both technology and an "innate human worth" (rather than a solely "economic worth") can be embraced, but that inevitably means many people won't be working or will be working very little.

But if the many "trust fund baby"/never-had-to-work-a-day-in-their-lives people that are peppered about my area are any indication of what this future will be like, then it doesn't sound so bad: writing poetry or doing other forms of artwork all day, running very small (and unprofitable) "hobby farms," socializing all day, etc etc (no, they didn't turn to drugs or other antisocial activities because there was "nothing to do"...that stuff stems from poverty, not unemployment)

Comment: Would someone please think of the Economy? (Score 4, Interesting) 710

by rabbin (#47311513) Attached to: Workaholism In America Is Hurting the Economy
Yeah, nevermind that workaholism makes the overwhelming majority of people miserable--certainly that couldn't be more of a reason (or even a sufficient reason) to be concerned. Would someone please think of the upper class's ability to maximize profits by squeezing the life out of the working cla--I mean the Economy, would someone please think of the Economy?

Comment: Skepticism and Negativity (Score 1) 247

by rabbin (#47203909) Attached to: Mayday Anti-PAC On Its Second Round of Funding
The last submission was met with positive/encouraging comments and a little skepticism, but now we have individuals overwhelmingly complaining that this is a "democrat PAC", a "leftist cause", or that it is somehow infringing on free speech rights. This is all absurd. A "democrat PAC" would not give you the option of limiting your pledge only to Republican candidates. The disgust with the influence of money in politics is not a "leftist" thing--there is just a minority trying to make it another left vs right thing by instilling the usual tribalistic hatred (most of the right hates money in politics just as much as the left does and knows how badly they are screwed by it). And the reforms the Mayday PAC supports do not infringe on free speech rights unless you believe there should be no equality to free speech--that the size of one's wealth should make one's voice much more likely to be heard.

As for the skepticism of whether or not it will work (assuming you think it's a problem in the first place--if not, enjoy your plutocracy):

First, what do you propose as an alternative? Unless you're advocating for a revolution, the solution needs to work within the system itself. Americans are very concerned about the influence of wealth in politics, but in order to transform that concern into a change in policy there need to be promising alternative candidates running on that issue (the current selection of candidates are quite reticent about it and rarely act on it because they know it threatens their re-election). Candidates that would actually like to remove the corrupting influence of wealth in politics cannot compete because one needs a lot of money to run a meaningful campaign (and the reforms supported by Mayday give such candidates a means based on support at local levels--e.g. matching funds systems). Therefore, these candidates rarely get any media attention and thus very few even know they exist or have any confidence in their success. What Mayday is trying to do is give candidates running on an issue that many Americans are concerned about a fighting chance within a system whose design is antithetical to resolving that issue. I'm all ears to your alternative solutions.

Second, while the skepticism is warranted, it is redundant. There is no solution to this problem that won't be unbelievably difficult in practice--Lessig is calling it a "moonshot" for a reason. If you look at each solution in isolation, all of them seem unreasonable and they always will until one of them by chance stumbles upon success. But this does not mean you should not act. Some solutions are less unreasonable than others and I believe Mayday PAC is one of them because it is one of the few that are working with the constraints and realities of the system in mind. And as a "kickstarter" it has been designed to reduce the risk to you as a supporter--the worst that can happen is that they raise $12 million dollars, the candidates they support are duds, and you lose $20. In the other negative case, you get to keep your $20.

But given the pent up disgust with politicians being unresponsive to the concerns of everyone except the large donors, I think Americans will respond very well to compelling candidates that make the issue of money in politics a top priority (and yes, "compelling," among other things, means well-financed--even if indirectly through a small dollar funded Super PAC) and whose financial backing does not compel them to act otherwise.

Comment: They all do this (Score 5, Insightful) 142

by rabbin (#47178621) Attached to: Cable Companies Use Astroturfing To Fight Net Neutrality
PR in the US is often just propaganda. It is another avenue through which wealth can be used to exert undue influence over policy by shaping public opinion, deceiving, astroturfing, etc etc. It is justified under Free Speech, but there is no concern for equality: if you have more money, your voice (or the people you pay to spread "your voice") is much more likely affect change. In my opinion, this is wrong.

I recommend reading the book Deadly Spin by Wendell Potter which shows just how insidious this practice is. The author used to be a top PR executive at several insurance companies but "found his conscience" and is speaking out against it.

"Be *excellent* to each other." -- Bill, or Ted, in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure