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Comment: Re:they do not "let" netflix (Score 2) 490

by rgmoore (#46586569) Attached to: Are DVDs Inconvenient On Purpose?

They don't "let" Netflix do it. It's netflix's right to do so and the movie studios tried to stop them

To be more specific, by the first sale doctrine, when Netflix buys a physical disk, they are legally free to do with it as they see fit. They can rent it, sell it, give it away, or throw it into a shredder, and there's nothing the studios can legally do to stop them. As long as the disk doesn't get copied, the studio's copyright is still being respected. This is well settled law, as much as the studios hate it. If they want to sell the disk to the public, they can't avoid selling it to Netflix, who can then legally rent it.

That doesn't mean the OPs basic point about economics is invalid. The studios clearly have different policies about different movies when it comes time to offer streaming rights. They know that a popular recent movie, or a still popular classic, will have much higher disk sales than an older or less popular one, so they deliberately avoid making it available for streaming to maximize their sales revenue. Netflix can still offer it on a physical disk, but given that they're paying full price for it, they have to offer physical disk rentals as a premium service. By the time the disks are ready for the remainder bin, the studio has pretty much exhausted its sales revenue stream, so they can make more money by offering it for streaming. It's about the same policy that they've followed with making movies available for TV; they only do it after making as much as they can selling physical copies.

Comment: Re:Please stop linking paywalled papers. (Score 1) 74

The publishers aren't paying for research. If anything, they're taking money away from research by charging too much for journals and, in many cases, additional fees to authors to get their work published. Most of the money paying for research comes from government grants, and thus ultimately from the public, and then the journal publishers try to lock it up and make everyone pay a second time to see the work they've already paid for.

Comment: Re:Obvious missing option -- ELECTIVES! (Score 4, Insightful) 313

by rgmoore (#46370627) Attached to: Should programming be a required curriculum in public schools?

I would argue that food prep should be a required class. When I was in school, everyone was required to take cooking, sewing, and wood and metal shop. Cooking is, or ought to be, a daily activity for most people; they certainly shouldn't count on a lifestyle that has somebody else preparing all their meals. A cooking class with a good emphasis on nutrition could do a lot to reduce widespread obesity.

Comment: Re:Use Class Rank (Score 1) 264

by rgmoore (#46214091) Attached to: Adjusting GPAs: A Statistician's Effort To Tackle Grade Inflation

Grading on the curve assumes that all student cohorts are pretty similar, but that some courses/exams are easy and some are hard. Your way assumes that all courses are exactly as hard as each other, but makes no assumptions about the other students.

Grading on a curve assumes that the question grades are intended to answer is the relative positioning of the students in the class. Grading on a straight percentage assumes that the most interesting question is how well the students have mastered the material. I would argue that the second question is more interesting than the first. If you discover that the students are routinely getting mostly good grades, that means it's time to make the course (or maybe just the test) more challenging, not to give some of them artificially bad grades even though they've learned the material.

My general feeling is that grading on a curve is a crutch for professors who don't know or care how to write good tests. Rather than creating a test that will do a good job of sorting the students out by ability, they create any old test and then force-fit the scores to the distribution they expect. It forces the students to compete for an artificially limited number of good scores, making them competitors and discouraging cooperation that might actually help them learn better.

Comment: Re:I'd say Great Idea (Score 1) 192

by rgmoore (#46198715) Attached to: Cops With Google Glass: Horrible Idea, Or Good One?

As the summary says, knowing that you're being monitored all of the time would keep the cops on their best behavior.

Only as long as the records are as readily available to people outside the police force as to the police themselves. If the police are free to produce recordings only when they find it convenient, they are useless for holding the police accountable.

Comment: Re:Fail by all posters so far on the issue (Score 3, Informative) 692

by rgmoore (#46043045) Attached to: Protesters Show Up At the Doorstep of Google Self-driving Car Engineer

I certainly wouldn't say that Prop 13 is an unalloyed good, but you're partly misunderstanding how it works. The assessment only goes up- or only goes up by more than 2%/year- when the property changes ownership, i.e. when it's sold or inherited, not when it changes occupants. This means it has the kind of effect you're describing mostly for owner occupied housing, not for rental apartments. What it really does is to give a tax advantage to owners who have owned a long time, whether they live in the property or not.

It's also important not to exaggerate the importance of property tax in the overall cost of a property. Prop 13 also rolled back property taxes to 1% of the value of the property, and while there have been some tax increases since then, typical property tax rates in California are around 1.25%. If somebody wants to sell their house to move into a smaller house, a big jump in real estate prices will generally give them big windfall profits on the sale that will soften the blow of higher taxes on the new place. There's also a special clause that lets people over 65 carry some of the reduced assessment from their old house if they sell and buy a new place; value in their new house up to the sale price of their old house will be assessed at the assessment for their old house, so their taxes won't go up unless they're moving into a more expensive house.

Comment: Re:Fail by all posters so far on the issue (Score 5, Informative) 692

by rgmoore (#46040441) Attached to: Protesters Show Up At the Doorstep of Google Self-driving Car Engineer

Please note that rising property taxes is not a big issue in California because of Prop 13, which prevents properties from being reassessed until their next transfer of ownership. People who already own houses in the neighborhood will not see their property taxes go up any more than they otherwise would. Prop 13 was passed specifically to prevent owners from being forced out of their homes by rising property taxes, and it does a good job. Gentrification may increase the cost of living in other ways (e.g. by replacing affordable local stores with more expensive ones) but it will also help the local city's finances and help to pay for better public services.

The people who really lose out to gentrification are renters, who certainly can be priced out of their neighborhood. Even rent control and other tenant protections can be worked around, if nothing else by landlords selling to owners who plan to live there rather than rent out the property.

Comment: Re:I wish I could say "none" (Score 2) 312

by rgmoore (#45853911) Attached to: No. of vehicle license types I hold:

Might see a bit less tailgating and fewer multi-car pileups if CA drivers knew those numbers.

Or not. The problem on the roads where I see the most tailgating is that there simply isn't enough space for drivers to maintain recommended tailing distance at the common driving speed. Instead, the drivers have learned to reduce their tailing distance and watch more than one car ahead, which works remarkably well. The number of accidents is actually pretty small when you consider the number of vehicle miles driven.

What hath Bob wrought?