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Comment: Re:Super-capitalism (Score 2) 326

by tburkhol (#48465885) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

For one, the US is big.. really big.. So it's not cost-effective to run power cables and alike underground. So that makes them more vulnerable.

This argument is only valid for long-distance transmission lines, and failure of those lines contributes to very few outages (the 2003 NE US blackout comes to mind). Customer-perceived blackouts are almost all due to failure of metropolitan and suburban distribution networks. Areas where population density is as high as any other developed nation.

Comment: Re:Flip Argument (Score 1) 1027

by tburkhol (#48458441) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

I submit to you that you do not know what happened. Don't feel bad- very few people outside of the 12 members of the Grand Jury have heard all of known facts of the case. I certainly don't know what happened.

9 members of the grand jury. They have not necessarily heard all of the known facts, either: they have heard the facts that the prosecutor elected to present. Outside of the grand jury members, there is no one to check or validate the case the prosecutor chose to make.

Grand juries can be an important part of our system of checks and balances. They can be a mechanism for restraining prosecutorial over-reach. But they can also be kangaroo courts.

Comment: Re:Flip Argument (Score 1) 1027

by tburkhol (#48458343) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

Angry mob that does not have all the evidence vs a grand jury that does have the evidence.

A grand jury hearing is not a trial. Only one side presents. There are no external observers. The people are not angry that Wilson was found innocent, they are angry that (yet again) secret proceedings among a network of peers has declined even to hold an open, public hearing of the facts.

Instead, a closed, peer-review reports that they find no wrongdoing. Instead, the prosecutor, who works closely with police every day, fails even to present enough evidence to convince the grand jury that the evidence is worth discussing in public. Instead of an open hearing of both sides, there will be only the law enforcement side and a bunch of easily-dismissed protesters, civil rights activists, and conspiracy theorists.

Officer Wilson may or may not have done anything wrong, but without a real trial, we will only ever hear propaganda.

Comment: Re:Wouldn't time be better spent... (Score 1) 474

by tburkhol (#48451423) Attached to: Cops 101: NYC High School Teaches How To Behave During Stop-and-Frisk

This is completely at odds with everything I've heard about US legal system, where the victims need to prove they didn't provoke the attacker ("stand your ground"), especially if the attacker is a cop, so citation needed.

Not quite sure what you need a cite on - That police in the US don't have the right to beat the shit out of you for no reason?

Yes, that's the part. Can you offer any statistics on what fraction of officers that beat or kill an unresisting subject are actually dismissed from their jobs and unable to find another posting? Because around here, they seem to hand out administrative leave with pay pretty liberally, slaps on the wrist pretty reluctantly, and terminations quite rarely. The SWAT team that dropped a grenade in a baby's crib are not even being reprimanded.

Comment: Re:So basically (Score 1) 437

by tburkhol (#48419003) Attached to: Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power

I'd think a libertarian government would not want anyone, owners of large corporations included, to take over governance.

Libertarians may not want there to be much structural government, but that's different from disclaiming any governance. For example, if Homeland Security says that people must go through backscatter detectors and bomb sniffers before getting on an airplane, that's government. If the monopoly airline says that passengers are only welcome after a backscatter test and bomb sniffer, the outcome is functionally identical.

Additionally, I'm having a hard time recalling the last occasion on which a company squashed my civil liberties

How about this example: there's no law against me running a web server from my home, but Comcast won't let me. Nor will AT&T. Are they "quashing my right to free speech?" When the police show up and tell me I'm free to protest...over there, are they quashing my right to free speech?

Comment: Re:Apparently "backers" don't understand the term (Score 1) 472

by tburkhol (#48410001) Attached to: Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

You're still obliged, in law, to deliver what you promised you would.

I'm pretty sure, if you look at the 'gifts' offered, they are all offered contingent on success of the project. Not success of the funding campaign, but success of the project. I'm pretty sure you'll find that the projects are all roadmaps or visions and subject to revision. So, E:D's kickstarter "promise" to deliver you a specific game is a lot like Comcast's promise to deliver up to 25 Mbps.

So far as I know, there is exactly one pending lawsuit aimed at testing the obligation to deliver promised goods. I don't expect it to be very successful, because funders are generally putting money into a risky venture without guaranteed success.

Even authentic, tax-deductible charities get away with diverting donations from their ostensible purposes. Look at a group like National Veterans Services Fund. Their administrative costs are 82% of their revenue. You can find 'charities' with administrative and fundraising costs as high as 95% of donations. The point is that "delivering" on marketing literature is very different than "delivering" on a contract.

Comment: Re:Buyer Beware (Score 1) 472

by tburkhol (#48409871) Attached to: Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

Is it a donation? I don't think it is legal to donate to a for-profit entity. Kickstarter doesn't seem to think so either, which is why projects offer at least some sort of token for their lowest levels.

It's absolutely legal for you to give money to any entity (ok, maybe not Hamas or ISIL) you desire. It is not legal for you to claim a tax deduction for giving money to a for-profit entity. "Gifts" or tokens are offered because it turns out that very few humans will give money to someone else's project without something in return. Look at all of those actual, non-profit charities that offer postcards from the kids you've fed, souvenir mugs, or buttons in exchange for targeted donation levels.

Comment: Re:Buyer Beware (Score 1) 472

by tburkhol (#48409845) Attached to: Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

Not much different from venture capital, except by giving $50 instead of $50M you don't get a board seat and massive returns if successful, you just get a possibly sketchy promise of a "reward" for your investment.

It's very different from venture capital. If you "invest" in a company or startup, you are very literally buying a piece of that company. It becomes yours, and you have (proportionally) as much right to say what that company does as any other owner. Venture capital is a terrible analogy for kickstarter.

A better analogy is charity. If you give money to PBS or Habitat for Humanity, they may send you some 'gift' in return. If they run out of the particular gift you asked for, they'll substitute something they feel is similar. Giving money to PBS doesn't give you the power to change their programming. It doesn't give you a vote on corp direction.

Kickstarter is charity, where kickstarter the company holds all donations in escrow until the success threshold is reached. That's actually quite nice, because it makes it less likely that donors will contribute to doomed projects. eg, if a project needs 100k to buy studio time, but they only get $50k, then their project will fail. Absent kickstarter, all those people who donated to get to $50k would be out their money. With kickstarter, they get it back and everyone walks away - disappointed, but financially whole.

Comment: Re: here we go (Score 1) 834

by tburkhol (#48361181) Attached to: How To End Online Harassment

Children Act 1989 section 2, particularly:
(4)The rule of law that a father is the natural guardian of his legitimate child is abolished.
Source: England and Wales Statute Roll (

Thus abolishing prior law that denied the mother guardianship of her child. Note that father was "the" guardian. The older, paternalistic law was replaced with

(1) Where a child's father and mother were married to each other at the time of his birth, they shall each have parental responsibility for the child.


Comment: Re:Science fiction comes to life, again (Score 3, Insightful) 176

by tburkhol (#48358629) Attached to: The Disgruntled Guys Who Babysit Our Aging Nuclear Missiles

blame the anti nuke crowd for causing the mess. I mean we all dont want nukes but alas, we have them. so we need to take care of them, and the people maintaining them

Or, we could, you know, dismantle them if they no longer serve the purpose intended for them. Then we wouldn't have them, they wouldn't need maintaining, and there would be no risk of misuse or accident.

Comment: Re:Obama (Score 1) 706

by tburkhol (#48353217) Attached to: President Obama Backs Regulation of Broadband As a Utility

If Obama was really so serious about it, then why does he wait until he can't do anything about it to even SAY anything? Let alone do nothing the whole time, except appoint a former telecom lobbyist to the FCC?

Because Obama has spent the last year studiously doing nothing to upset conservative talk radio, in the desperate hope that Republicans might not make every campaign and anti-Obama campaign. This strategy failed miserably, and they ended up with nothing they could point to as a positive accomplishment.

Unix is the worst operating system; except for all others. -- Berry Kercheval