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


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 25% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY25". ×

Comment Re:45 million? Tha's all? (Score 1) 154

Yes I agreed with you during the George HW Bush time. I was at that time very much supportive of cutting government spending and was furious at the lack of cuts. This round of sequestration has also been a huge success for spending cuts. Congress is starting to freak because it has been so succesful on defense.

I loved the Base Closure Commission process. I'm still amazed we managed to close a bunch of military bases. I'd love to have a Spending Cut Commission which could offer a non-negotiable package of cuts for an up-or-down vote.

Comment Re:45 million? Tha's all? (Score 1) 154

Ummm... sequestration did not work...

I guess that depends on how you define "work". Based on 30 seconds of Googling, total federal spending has been more or less flat since FY 2009 so something worked. Maybe budgeting by continuing resolution isn't all that bad. Sequestration certainly had a role in halting the increases, as did divided government (yay gridlock!). Interestingly, it looks like both defense and welfare spending peaked in 2011 and have dropped since then.

I'm getting my data from here, YMMV.

Comment Re:45 million? Tha's all? (Score 1) 154

I just read TFA. It is millions with an M, our of a total spend of $1 billion. That's mouse nuts. I mean, that's a chunk of change in absolute terms but it's around 15 cents per citizen.

If you want to get outraged there are higher priority issues. Just apply Amdahl's law to budget reduction: you have to reduce where the money is spent.

Comment Re:Social mobility was killed, but not this way (Score 1) 1032

A) Degrees costing hundreds of thousands of dollars is insane, they shouldn't cost anything like that much.

Shouldn't? Then why aren't people flooding in to offer degrees costing 10% less or 50% less? To answer my own question, probably because it's hard to break into the education business and because people are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars.

My feeling is college degrees are overpriced. It's weird though. We just sent one kid to college and it's surprising how much list price can differ from actual. Many students attend Harvard for $0, others for $65,000/year. My intuition is costs are escalating because of the easy loans TFA talks about. I think many people look at loans as free money and don't connect the loan with the commitment to earn a salary to pay the loan back. If more people thought of a college education as a purchase, I think there would be far fewer people willing to sign up for crushing debt to get degrees which don't lead to large salaries.

Comment Re:Stupid reasoning. (Score 1) 1094

Funny how people forget that profits are AFTER wages and benefits.. Meaning that the billions that the top people of these companies get in wages and benefits don't count as profit.

It's hardly billions. I read an article yesterday pointing out that if the Walmart CEO got nothing (no cash, no benefits, no stock, no options), the average employee would get something between $30 and $100 a year. That's hardly going to make or break anyone's living.

Money spent expanding the company (increasing it's value) don't count as profit.

Do you think it ought to? Investing in the company to grow it is generally seen as a good thing. We've chosen to tax companies on profit, not revenue. I don't think either one is provably right, it's just a choice we made.

Money spent eating lobster and drinking fine wine on the expense account don't count as profit.

I used to work with a sales team selling to Walmart. There was a distinct lack of lobster and wine. What's your experience?

Yes, I really want to hold up Walmart.

Good, so do I.

What you're missing is the vast numbers of people they've helped. How many employees do you think they have (answer: 500,000-ish)? How about how many customers (answer: hundreds of millions)? Are you really saying you know it's better for those 1,000 people to pay more to support the one employee? How can you possibly know that?

All I can say is when Walmart has job openings, people flock to apply. It's statistically harder to get a job at Walmart than to get accepted at MIT. That tells me they're striking deals which are fantastically appealing to their applicants, much better than the applicant's next best option. What makes you so well informed and wise as to know that's the wrong decision for them? Have a little respect for the little people to let them make their own choices.

Comment Re:"[D]ata on how much they have driven and where" (Score 1) 837

Journalists are part of the STATE.

Urk? In what sense? They don't work for the state, they aren't directed by the state. They tend to favor the state but that doesn't make them part of it.

Either read the fucking mileage every year or just pay whatever the national average mileage is... it's only about $150. It's dead simple, fair enough for owning a car, encourages ridesharing for those who whine that they drive significantly less than the national average, and REQUIRES NO PRIVACY INVADING GPS.

And (as others have pointed out), it's illegal. States can't legally tax my use of roads in another state (or private roads). For this to be legal, they have to know what road I'm driving on.

Comment Re:"[D]ata on how much they have driven and where" (Score 1) 837

And this idea of where someone has driven being collected by government concerns no one? That's the impression you would get from the bang-up job done by the journalist authoring the article.

TFA did mention security and privacy concerns, near the end, specifically quoting the interim executive director of the ACLU. I got the impression they're definitely thinking about it. Whether that's good enough, well, color me skeptical.

Comment Re:Wrong answer to the wrong question (Score 1) 1094

you are a socialist if you don't believe in minimum wage, because you want the government to fund worker's pay.

And you're a compassionate capitalist if you want people paid for their marginal productivity and are willing to use collective action via government to help out those who's marginal productivity is low enough that you can't bear to see them live like that.

Comment Re:Stupid reasoning. (Score 1) 1094

1. Small businesses, who are typically operating on rather small margins anyway

Walmart (in the Fortune 1 list) operates on a razor thin margin, something like 2-3%. Exxon-Mobil's (Fortune 2) margin is something like 6%. Being big doesn't mean large profit margins. Big profits in dollars, yes, but not on a percentage basis.

Apple's margin, BTW, is north of 20%. Let's pay the Genius Bar more. Or price an iPhone lower.

Comment Re:Stupid reasoning. (Score 1) 1094

"More useful" by whose definition?

By the definition of the person who has it. I have money in a bank, that's there in case I have large, sudden expenses. But I don't try to have as much as I can in a bank. At some point I've saved enough and want to use the rest. Some I invest, some I spend. Thing is, only I can tell you when I've saved enough and what I should spend the rest on (and sometimes I'm not even sure of that). You certainly can't.

Money is llike water - it can only generate power if it's moving. That 'useful stuff' you speak of often looks like putting the money behind a dam, where it does nothing to stimulate the economy.

I don't think that's a useful analogy. Money is just a way to keep track of things. The reality is I go to work every day and do useful stuff. They give me money and I use that money to buy a house. I've traded my time and skills for a house. If my employer could give me a house instead, I wouldn't need the money. Money is just more convenient for all concerned than barter.

Finally, the money I gave to the bank, do you think it just sits in their vault? It doesn't. It gets loaned out and stimulates the economy that way. That's what banks do, they move money from someone who doesn't need it right now to someone who does. I liken your image to that of Scrooge McDuck sitting in a giant safe filled with coins. I don't think that's how the world really works.

Comment Re:Stupid reasoning. (Score 1) 1094

Lets look at this for a second.... Who are a businesses customers? Hint: It's the people who get paid a wage.

Uhhh, what makes you believe your employees and your customers are the same people? But moving on...

These people get more money, more businesses get more customers. More customers mean more sales. More sales means more profits.

Is it really that hard to grasp that concept?

Yes, because the math doesn't work. At the very best, this would be a break-even. The classic counter-argument is what makes $15 so special? If this works, why not $20? $30? $300? Surely at some point this doesn't keep going and we all get replaced by robots. What makes you think $15 is it? Maybe the optimal point was $5. Maybe it is zero.

Consider this thought experiment. You own a McDonalds. There's probably someone you just hired who's a pretty marginal employee. He or she burns burgers, doesn't wrap them very fast, and is clumsy on the register. You tossed around the idea of hiring the kid or buying that flashy burger flipping machine instead. You figured you'd slot the kid in mid afternoon, there aren't many people coming in so it doesn't matter he or she isn't very efficient, but it was a close call.

Now someone tells you to double that kid's wages. What do you do? That burger flipping machine seems a lot more attractive now. Maybe you'll keep the kid but give him fewer hours. Maybe you'll sadly fire him or her and buy the machine. Once you've bought the machine, you can reduce your staff even in the busy times because the Flip-O-Matic is a sunk cost. That's what economists mean when they say you have to look at things "at the margin". You have to think about what happens to the employee who was just barely worth hiring.

Finally, I think a minimum wage is just wrong on liberty grounds. I've got kids who are just starting out. They've got basically no skills or experience. The only thing they have to offer is their time. $10/hour and something to put on their resumes might be a good deal for them. Who are you and I to tell them the must hold out for $15?

Comment Re:You're dying off (Score 1) 287

When you buy CASH (money) a vehicle, you can ask for the Manufacturers Statement Of Origin (MSO), and the dealer is obliged to surrender it to you. THIS is the actual Title. You own the car, free and clear.

OK, I stand corrected. I also stand by my statement that none of this is relevant to the discussion at hand.

And yes, there ought to be a standard for in vehicle systems such as this. But it is also in the interest of the Car Companies not to provide a standard, so that they can upsell you on the initial purchase rather than having you go to a customizing vendor to have it installed.

Yeah, that's likely true. They'd love to use the car electronics as a way to compete with other brands and they'd love to sell me a $2,500 nav system instead of letting me easily use my (already purchased) phone. But they can't upsell too much or I'll just use my phone instead and be annoyed. I'm sure marketing departments debate this all the time.

I wonder if a good system to tether a car to a phone will show up in low-end cars first. There the customers are far less likely to pony up for an expensive electronics upgrade. There might be more of a market for a phone connection.

It probably also matters how long one plans to own the car. I believe the trend is to own cars longer than in the past. They're so much more reliable people tend to hang on to them longer rather than trade them in every two to four years. If I'm going to hang onto my car for a decade, I kinda care that phone technology is going to make huge advances and my in-dash system is going to seem really clunky and ancient long before the car wears out. OTOH, lots of people lease cars so they can easily stay on the latest and greatest tech. Those people won't care about upgrading anything in the car because they won't own it that long.

Comment Re:The Author Never Owned a Car (Score 1) 287

Large portions of the population live in rural areas where there is no good mobile data coverage, and the cars still need to work well there...So we'll always be better off using our smart phones, which update regularly, as opposed to depending on a built in system

I hear what you're saying. I could quibble about whether it's "large numbers" or not. The vast majority of people get pretty good cell coverage, probably more than 80%. Apple, Google, AT&T, Verizon, etc. are all eager to make sure this is true. From that perspective, the number without reliable data coverage is small. However, even 20% of the US is 60 million people, which is large by any count. It would be a tough call to to write them off.

(I would have guessed the issue was safety and regression testing. If I was a car company, I wouldn't want to risk getting sued when someone asserts the latest Facebook software screwed up the nav system and they followed it off a bridge.)

What I find frustrating is that the majority of us are hobbled to serve the minority. I don't want to sound mean or callous but my driving experience is being held back to ensure a good experience on the part of a small number. I don't even have an option to sign up for software updates. Sheesh, could they at least make updates available on a web site so I could download to a SD card? My dashboard has a SD card slow, fer cryin' out loud. And bluetooth, and satellite radio. Surely there's some way to distribute updates, even if it's not the same as with a cell phone.

Comment Re:The Author Never Owned a Car (Score 1) 287

My in car entertainment system consists of a radio and whoever is in the passenger seat. Navigation comes from my smart phone. I upgrade the smart phone every couple of years, which expands capacity.

I think this is the important part. I care about my car navigation system, I use it a lot. I care about music and podcast players. I find using it using voice controls and hardware controls built into the steering wheel/HUD/dashboard is really nice. Problem is, the software and processor in my car is horrible compared to my two-year-old smartphone. Imagine how outclassed it will be when I ditch the car in 10 years? And I'd really like to configure my software and storage once and use it everywhere.

I'm hoping car manufacturers realize they can't stay ahead of the smartphones and give up. I'd much prefer to use the phone as the brain. Just give me really nice I/O devices built into the car and optimized for someone who's trying to pay attention to the road. Build in really nice sensors (radar, cameras, etc) which make the car really observant to the phone. And especially, make it much easier to upgrade the car processor and software.

Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.