Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:EA (Score 2) 84

by schnell (#49756521) Attached to: How Cities: Skylines Beat SimCity At Its Own Game

Is there actually a way for US businesses to prevent themselves from hostile takeover? Like, can they be "private limited companies" and just refuse to merge?

Oh yes indeed - it all depends on what type of company it is. I am oversimplifying here, but there are (at least in the US four (and a half) types of companies based on ownership structure:

  • Sole proprietorship : There is a dude named Bob Smith (BS) who owns Bob Smith Plumbing (BSP). BS and BSP are separate entities for tax purposes, but BS can do whatever the f**k he wants to with BSP - sell it, keep it, use its finances to expense hookers. The downside to Bob is that if BSP goes bankrupt, there is no barrier for creditors not to go after Bob personally.
  • Partnership or Limited Liability Partnership: There is a group of people who own Bob Smith Plumbing, which may include Bob Smith, a rich uncle who gave him the money to finance his startup costs, whatever. The partners who own shares in it control 100% of what the company does, and nobody can force them to do anything they don't want to. But if things go tits-up the partners who aren't involved in day-to-day operation of the business (e.g. Bob's uncle) may be shielded from some bankruptcy or lawsuit claims while those who ran the business daily (e.g. Bob) are not.
  • Corporation (private) : Here it gets interesting. Bob Smith Plumbing, Inc. is now legally separate from Bob or any of the owners - i.e., if BSP Inc. goes bankrupt, creditors can't come after Bob or the other owners. (In return for this legal separate personhood of the company, BSP Inc. must have independent board members, file quarterly reports and go through other legal oversight to prove that Bob isn't treating the corporation like a personal asset; if the books show that, creditors can "pierce the corporate veil" and hold Bob or the other shareholders personally liable.) Still, the owners are the owners and nobody can make them sell, not sell, or do anything else they don't want to. However, a large private corporation usually has a LOT of owners - founders, Venture Capitalists, etc. - and they all get to make big decisions based on the % of shares they own. If you get a buyout offer from $MEGACORP and the founders and employees (who own 49% of the shares) don't want to but the VCs (who own 51% of the shares) do, then you get bought out.
  • Corporation (public): Same as above, but you are no longer owned just by founders, employees, VCs, etc.; you have started selling your shares to anyone who wants to buy (ranging from jackasses like you or me with E*Trade accounts to hedge funds and institutional investors). Going public is a goal for most companies because it converts your shares of the company into actual, you know, money (think turning potential energy into kinetic energy). But going public means that (as above) not only does your company have to follow the will of the Board (as elected by shareholders based on their % of shares held) but you also are subject to lawsuits from those shareholders (or criminal prosecution by the FTC) if you run the company in a way (e.g. turn down a lucrative buyout offer) that is deliberately against the monetary interest of shareholders. On a side note, public corporations can create ways to avoid hostile takeovers like Poison Pill plans, too... but if more than 50% of shareholders don't like your way of running the company, you are out.

I say "four and a half" (despite there being other business entity forms) because the last "half" is a company that's in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Long story short, once you file, the previous owners of the company don't own s**t. The US government - in the form of a bankruptcy judge - now gets to decide what to do with the company, whether that means shutting it down, selling parts of it off at auction, or allowing the previous owners/managers to demonstrate that they have a plan to get the company back on its feet. Regardless, in bankruptcy nobody but the judge gets to decide what will happen to the company.

Comment: Re:Prior art (Score 2) 221

Many of the microwave towers in my area have been taken down in the last 5 years.

Not really surprising. My guess is the microwave towers (expensive, subject to failures from windstorms blowing radio heads out of alignment or crazy tinfoil hat people who think all RF emissions are evil, etc.) have been replaced by buried fiber optic backhaul, as fiber has become more widely available. I don't think there's any net reduction in bandwidth there.

Comment: Re:And OP is retarded. (Score 1) 335

by schnell (#49721189) Attached to: Stock Market Valuation Exceeds Its Components' Actual Value

You are absolutely correct. I think the thing that people who dislike "fiat currency" or advocate a return to the Gold Standard tend to forget is the single core principle that, since Adam Smith's days and before, has always defined market-based economies: "A thing is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it."

And the same holds true for gold, silver, salt or Beanie Babies: whatever you think it's worth means nothing if you can't find someone to sell it to for that price. "Inherent value" of a commodity is a lie in the sense that it is never truly fixed and an unalterably safe store of value. Today, most people in the developed world think that a small piece of paper with a dead white American politician on it is worth something, and they agree on what that value is. You could say to them, "but I have gold!" but to most people that is actually worth nothing to them except for what they could turn around and convert it back into currency for. The only thing that has inherent worth is whatever you are trying to buy or sell from someone thinks has inherent worth.

Comment: Re: It not very hard (Score 4, Informative) 167

by schnell (#49670067) Attached to: How Spotify Can Become Profitable

Musicians never got money from album sales. A sliver get allocated to them, and taken away again to repay the advance which the label gave them to make the album.

It entirely depends on the band, their contract, and how much they sell. The Beatles made massive piles of money even though they stopped touring halfway through their career, and the Pink Floyd "The Wall" album saved the band's members from bankruptcy while the following tour lost them all money. You can read about the structure of traditional music industry royalties here.

The short version is that on a CD sale, artists might make a 10% royalty after packaging, breakage, marketing and costs of production (advance) are subtracted. The above linked article shows how quickly that 10% shrinks, as well. Digital play royalties - unless the band is savvy and has negotiated better rates - are about half of the CD rate.

However, if you wrote the song that was performed, you will see an additional cut. And the band also gets royalties each time the song is played on the radio, or used on TV or in the movies (the writer gets an even bigger cut). So ultimately, there is still a lot of money to be made in recorded music, not just concerts and merchandise... but your music has to be popular enough to appear on the radio or other media for you to cash in. For indie bands, concerts and merchandise will be the big moneymakers of course, but they never sold much recorded music anyway.

+ - At Zappos.com, "No Bosses" Management Style Not For Everyone

Submitted by schnell
schnell writes: From The Washington Post: "In March, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh issued an ultimatum of sorts to his employees. If they didn't feel like they could get behind the company's radical new management system—in which there are no traditional managers or job titles—he would give them until April 30 to decide whether they wanted to leave in exchange for at least three months' severance. Now that the deadline has passed, it turns out that 210 employees, or about 14 percent of the online retailer's 1,500 workers, have taken Hsieh up on it."

The anti-?)management style Zappos has adopted, created by a programmer and called "holacracy" must sound like a dream to some. Still, it doesn't seem to be working out for everyone. Is this a matter of personal preference, or is there really no organizational structure that will truly make everyone happy?

Comment: Re:Is this an article on wealth redistribution? (Score 1) 296

by schnell (#49651863) Attached to: A Visual Walk Through Amazon's Impact On One Seattle Neighborhood

My husband works in HR there, and people aren't leaving Amazon as much as they are leaving Seattle. Many of the new hires are shocked to find-out that fast Internet access is only available in a tiny number of buildings in the region.

Too many young men move here then flee after getting tired of not having faster than dial-up access.

Bull. Fucking. Shit.

Broadband in Seattle is in line with the rest of the country, thank you. And where is it in the city of Seattle that you can't get "faster than dial-up access" speeds?

You mention "CondoInternet" as though it is the only option for "fast" - as if 1 Gbps+ is the only definition of "fast." Not only are there two other providers (according to the FCC report above) offering 1 Gbps+ Internet in Seattle, there are several others offering reasonable Internet speeds: in Woodinville (25 miles outside Seattle and close to the boondocks) where I live, Comcast (cursed be their name) offers 100 Mbps at reasonable prices.

So long story short, "young men" (why young men?) are not leaving Seattle because they can't get "faster than dial-up access" Internet. Either you are making this up completely, or you were somehow trying to find a way to mention "CondoInternet," which I will now try to find a way to avoid.

Comment: Re:Can he win? (Score 3) 395

by schnell (#49603661) Attached to: Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic

You're damn right this country was great back when we had strong union jobs and a family could live comfortably on a single income. There were strong regulations and the top tax bracket was near 90%. Things weren't great for everyone but at least we weren't fucked like we are now.

Unfortunately, the period you're referring to was an inherently unsustainable one caused by the fact that the US emerged as a victor from a World War, and coincidentally the only one of the major powers in that war whose population and infrastructure were not seriously ravaged by it. Even among the victors - Britain, China, France, let's not even mention the Soviets - all paid a heavy price on their home territory. The losers received economic support from the magnanimous Western powers, but that was cold comfort to a populace largely bombed into ruins.

So the US got to live in a bubble for a decade or two where the rest of the world didn't have the technology or the infrastructure to compete with us in any meaningful economic area. (They either were rebuilding it, never had it in the first place, or were too busy tearing themselves apart in postcolonial revolutions.) As a result, we had near-autarky in an industrial economy buoyed by barely sustainable Cold War military and aerospace spending. Times were good.

But you do get that it was never going to stay that way, right? Eventually the US was going to have to compete with the rest of the world for things. And lo and behold, they could make transistors cheaper in Japan, then they could make automobiles cheaper (and noticeably better!) there, too. Textiles disappeared to Southeast Asia, and steel and other raw materials manufactures moved to Asia as well. By the time the '90s and NAFTA rolled around, it was pretty clear that American consumers would much rather pay a quarter for a can of Coke made in Mexico than 50 cents of one bottled in Virginia. Unless it shut itself off from the world completely - thereby hosing its own exports market - the US could not sustain living wages in low skill jobs forever. The modern equivalent of $55/hour for high school graduates in Detroit who welded three car doors together an hour between smoke breaks was never, ever going to last.

Comment: Re:Can he win? (Score 2) 395

by schnell (#49603567) Attached to: Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic

Contrary to popular belief, the president has no power at all to deal with the national debt.

Technically true but not in practice. The President does propose a budget to Congress each year, which the House and Senate are free to embroider upon as they wish. Others have mentioned the fact that the President can veto the budget approved by Congress until they have the 2/3 majority for an override.

But most importantly, the President can commit the US to unwarranted, falsely justified conflicts overseas that eat up $2 trillion in budget over 10 years and duly expect a rubber stamping from Congress. (Because who is going to vote to not pay for the US soldiers you have already committed there to buy the bullets they now require?) So, yeah, in practice they can have a lot of impact, usually for the worse when neocons get involved in any way.

Comment: Re:Sanders amazes me (Score 2, Interesting) 395

by schnell (#49603457) Attached to: Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic

Paying for them is a simple matter of raising taxes on wealthy people.

That's a brave thing for a wealthy person like yourself to say and I commend it. Wait, what? You aren't actually wealthy, and instead you just think that somebody who is "not you" should pay for it? Oh, that seems a little more convenient.

While marginal tax rates in the US are not nearly as high as those in many parts of Europe, our income tax system is progressive (i.e. rich pay more) and the lower tax burden is disporportionately structured to benefit the less wealthy. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, "taxpayers with income over $100,000 a year earn 60 percent of the nation's income and pay 95.2 percent of the income taxes in the United States." Additionally, according to that same source, "Those making over $200,000 comprise just over 5 percent of the nation's taxpayers, earn 32.3 percent of the income, but pay 46.7 percent of total federal taxes and 70 percent of federal income taxes." European systems are actually more "fair" in the sense that larger portions of their incomes are collected in regressive taxes (i.e. everyone pays the same so poor feel it more) like the VAT.

Let's be grown-ups and admit that where we stand depends on where we sit. You probably are not "wealthy," whatever that means to you, and taxing those smug bastards sure sounds good to you, right? Conversely, I am not a "one percenter" (at least not in my state or region), but am part of a family with two working spouses with tech management jobs, and my family's Federal tax bill this year before adjustments and deductions closely approached six figures, or just slightly less than double the median income of the United States.

To someone who is certainly comfortable but by no means rolling in it - child care is ludicrously expensive, and we save as much as is feasible for retirement, taking a lot off our topline income - "oh let's just throw more taxes on people with money" does not sound nearly as good to me as it apparently does to you.

Comment: Re:Try again... 4? (Score 2) 226

by schnell (#49594261) Attached to: Grooveshark Shuts Down

Maybe RADIO had something to do with it......You know getting free music for almost a CENTURY...

Radio isn't "free." The radio stations had to pay the record labels, songwriters and artists for the music they played. In turn, they charged businesses money for - horrors - "unskippable" ads that you had to listen to. Or in the case of public radio stations, asking you for money directly to keep them on the air.

There is no free lunch.

Comment: Re:/.er bitcoin comments are the best! (Score 1) 253

by schnell (#49591025) Attached to: Bitcoin Is Disrupting the Argentine Economy

The Data from payment processors reflects spikes in spending with bitcoin when it goes through disinflationary bubbles however. Perhaps your Econ101 professor didn't understand everything?

Or perhaps he understood more than you, and those spending spikes reflect idiot speculators trying to unload bitcoins before they fall too far? Kind of like the spike in unloading any speculated currency or commodity when it starts to crash?

Also - honest question - you keep referring to "disinflationary." That's not a term I have heard before, can you explain where this term came from and how it differs from deflation?

+ - Who Are The One Percent of the One Percent of US Political Donors?

Submitted by schnell
schnell writes: "In 2014, one out of every five dollars that was contributed to political candidates came from a group of about 32,000 donors — one-one-hundredth of one-one-hundredth of the population of the country," according to the Washington Post and two political watchdog groups. They have mapped (by party and by population) where this money comes from, and their potentially unsurprising conclusion: financiers in New York, oilmen in Texas and techies in the Bay Area are the biggest individual spenders. But is it the other 80% of money donated — from the Bible Belt, rural America and other places — that is heard more loudly?

Comment: Re:Twisted perception (Score 1) 185

by schnell (#49585571) Attached to: How One Tweet Wiped $8bn Off Twitter's Value

Fair enough point. But the rationale for the gold standard I have heard from most proponents was that paper money "isn't real" and only has value as a more convenient way of, in effect, carrying gold around since it has "real value." (I also find more than a little irony in having met a few of these folks who are also major proponents of BitCoin and manage to swallow the cognitive dissonance nicely.)

If your rationale for supporting a return to the gold standard is keeping governments honest about their spending, then I find that much more rational. It just seems from historical example to be incompatible with promoting real economic growth, or dealing with expediencies (for example, financing World War I was the reason most countries got off the gold standard in the first place).

Comment: Re:Twisted perception (Score 2) 185

by schnell (#49582357) Attached to: How One Tweet Wiped $8bn Off Twitter's Value

Nothing says you can't have inflation in a commodity currency (gold from the new world famously did so after all) or deflation. Nothing says the "value" is constant or not arbitrary or anything different from the perceived value.

That's not how it's supposed to work under the old "gold standard" that tinfoil hatters worldwide espouse a return to. Under the old method, you would peg your currency at "$4.75 = 1 ounce of gold" and that was expected to never change. Ever. Otherwise, what's the point if I can say a dollar is worth .00075 oz of gold today and .0008 oz. of gold tomorrow? Because that's pretty much how it works in the open exchange market today. Currency values fluctuate, the price of gold fluctuates - who cares if you can't force the government to give you gold for that dollar bill when you can always find someone to sell some gold to you in exchange for those dollars at the market price?

And the thing that caused everyone to get off the darn gold standard in the first place was not only that you could have inflation or deflation, but if you had deflation or inflation, there was nothing your country could do about it. And if you are deflating and you can't do anything to stop it, your economy is f$%&*ed.

Aside: For those wondering why economists are so scared of deflation, it's because it destroys the rationale for people to save and invest. If it costs $1 to buy a Big Mac today and will cost $1.10 next year, instead of just sitting on my leftover lunch money I should put it in a bank or invest it so that it makes money and I have enough cash for next year's Big Mac. If next year's Big Mac only costs $0.90, then why risk investing it? I will just keep it under my mattress and I have "made" money (more purchasing power) by doing so. Money in mattresses = banks have no money to lend to people who want to buy houses or start businesses = fewer jobs = vicious cycle of economic misery. This, by the way, was what clobbered the world economy during the Great Depression (along with all the banks that collapsed and ate everyone's savings account, making everyone very nervous about putting their money in the bank).

And there's no such thing as "not enough gold". If you moved the world to a gold standard overnight and we pretend that the world economy doesn't collapse then there's enough gold - the value of gold relative to everything else sky rockets of course. And you use a use a representative currency not actual gold coins of course.

Even that doesn't really work though. In Rand Paul's Good Old Days of the Gold Standard, when the world economy was probably 1/50th(?) of today's size but the supply of gold wasn't all that much smaller, you could walk into a Federal Reserve Bank with a non-ridiculous amount of bank notes and walk out with enough US-minted gold coins that you could trade it or do something meaningful with it. If we tied the world economy back to the gold standard at its current size, it might cost you $10,000 to get a big enough slice of gold that it wouldn't just disappear if you sneezed. And if gold is only useful in gigantic transactions far above the amount of cash most people can afford, what's the point?

Comment: Re:Cool world (Score 1) 216

by schnell (#49574057) Attached to: US Successfully Tests Self-Steering Bullets

They can shoot around corners

So we can be shot around corners but we won't be shooting around them now or ever.

Uh, who is the they and the we in your statements? Are you actually planning on having firefights against the US military, and if so, is this the thing that makes you think you might be unfairly outgunned? As in, you thought things were a fair fight when you were just going up against the railguns and the stealth bombers and the carrier battle groups and whatnot, but the fact you can't get a fully automatic belt feed large caliber gun and a guided bullet means the US military has an unfair advantage against you?

And, by the way, WTF do you need a "fully automatic belt feed large caliber gun" for other than really awesome G.I. Joe cosplay or slaughtering whole deer herds in under sixty seconds?

Work expands to fill the time available. -- Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "The Economist", 1955