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Comment: Re:Not surprised. (Score 1) 552

by Rich0 (#47573163) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

See above, basically if a company "verifies" the debt you are boned without getting the courts involved.

They all will. They just produce whatever document the company sends them in the first place. That is a meaningless projection, but it can get you off the hook if the collector completely drops the ball.

Comment: Re:Lies and statistics... (Score 1) 552

by Rich0 (#47573137) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

A big problem is the way we treat everybody at a hospital as if they were direct service providers. You spend a week in the hospital and you get 47 different bills.

I have insurance and it is still a major hassle to keep track of what has and hasn't been paid. I routinely get bills that are incorrect, and I have to tell the provider to straighten things out with the insurer. It isn't uncommon to end up with a "late" bill and I've even had one go to collections - which got canceled after a bunch of calls.

A bill in collections is nothing more than a company claiming that you owe them money. That doesn't make it true.

Comment: Re:Not so bad (Score 1) 571

by Rich0 (#47554489) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

Except that this is civil war and nobody invaded eastern Ukraine cities; the one at fight are usual city residents.

Well, any nonuniform Russian special operations forces in Ukraine would be invaders, for sure. There have been pictures of heavy military equipment in cities as well - so this isn't a purely door-to-door operation. In just about every war in modern history significant troop concentrations in cities get bombed or attacked using artillery. So, this is just par for the course. If you see a bunch of soldiers deploy in the house across the street, it would be wise to find someplace else to live. Sure, you don't deserve to die for living in the wrong place, but you'll die all the same.

The only time armies spare cities from general bombardment is when they have such an overwhelming advantage in a war that they can afford to fight with a handicap. Ukraine does not seem to have such a decisive advantage - this isn't the UN vs Iraq/etc (not that the usual US/UK/France/Germany coalition is shy about dropping bombs in cities). This is more like Kosovo, or WWII - a battle between near-equals, and that generally means the whole country gets turned into rubble.

Comment: Re:NO, all candy bar (Score 1) 539

by Rich0 (#47552203) Attached to: Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

Well, I do miss my old G2 keyboard when I do things like ssh, but I have to admit that this is a REALLY niche application. You are correct that swype-style keyboards are just as fast these days for general use. Plus, android voice recognition has gotten to the point where I'm starting to talk to my phone more and more even in public.

Comment: Re:Weakest US President ever (Score 1) 571

by Rich0 (#47551109) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

You're jumping from Russia trying to annex Ukraine to Russia trying to invade Alaska. They're more likely to send the tanks rolling into Germany first, and they'll probably annex China long before then.

Wow. Just wow. That was the most stupid statement ever on slashdot. And that's saying something.

Russia annex China? I'm surprised you actually can remember to breathe.

Where did I say that Russia would annex China?

I only said that they'd do that before they invaded Alaska.

Comment: Re: Not about leaks (Score 1) 282

what would you do if you were a disabled and mentally retarded orphan?

That is one of the few cases where I agree that programs like Social Security are required. Those programs shouldn't be available to the general populus, only those that really need them - the exceptions instead of the rule. This would also make such programs more easily fundable and solvent.

The only thing we're arguing about here, then, is what qualifies as "disabled" or "retarded."

We need to come up with a national approach to retirement/etc benefits that works for everybody - not just those who are both good at earning money AND good at investing it.

National programs that are extended to the general populus will never be sustainable and will result in either insolvency or the destruction of the nation and/or currency.

I would only extend benefits to those who are incapable of work, or to supplement those who cannot earn a decent basic income. Today that would be a fairly insignificant portion of the GDP.

With steady advances in technology and increased specialization in the workforce we just keep raising the bar for the kinds of skills and talents somebody needs to have to earn their own way. Eventually, not even you would have been able to hold down a job.

False. Advanced in Technology does not necessitate increased specialization. The only thing that really drives the "raising the bar" issue here is inflation and the long held beliefs that you have to have inflation - you can't keep the currency stable or have deflation.

The US has barely any inflation at all, and for anybody who works for a living a little inflation isn't a big deal. Prices go up, but so do wages. Their retirement funds might have problems, but most people don't have those anyway.

When I look around me I see tons of specialization as a result of technological advances. Nobody works as a general laborer these days.

Once upon a time anybody willing to dig ditches could earn a living wage. These days nobody wants to hire people to dig ditches - machines can do the job far more effectively. The same is true of most assembly-line jobs. Eventually I would expect machines to replace the majority of labor, including the designing of the machines themselves, the design of the products they manufacture, and the marketing/sale of those products to people or to machines that make purchasing decisions.

In the long-term the only real question is who owns the machines.

Comment: Re:already done (Score 1) 129

Good point. You'd think that after the fact this could have been escalated so that the military could have heavy-lifted whatever they could into the area.

I'm not surprised about the lack of venting though. You're talking about somebody having to make the call about deliberately venting what was probably contaminated air into the environment. For whatever reason society tends to favor allowing a huge disaster over causing a smaller one - just the trolley problem in another form.

Comment: Re:Great... (Score 1) 571

by Rich0 (#47550725) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

One of the problems with surrounding yourself with yes-men is that you start to think that the lines you feed them will actually work with others...

Hard to say whether this will push the EU over the edge, but if they hadn't shot down the airliner I think there was a good chance Putin would have gotten what he wanted.

Comment: Re: I know you're trying to be funny, but... (Score 1) 726

by Rich0 (#47550125) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: "GCC 4.9.0 Seems To Be Terminally Broken"

The problem is that bugs like these can be incredibly hard to spot. This particular one was fixed before he went on his tirade from what I understand - so it was whoever that was compiling his kernel that wasn't using the latest patch set. Plenty of bugs make it into production kernels - I've got a btrfs bug driving me nuts with compress=lzo enabled in the current stable branch. I'm not going to gripe at the volunteers trying to fix it - this stuff is hard to get right and I knew I was dealing with something cutting-edge when I started using it.

EVERY new gcc release has bugs in it, or if nothing else it will expose bugs in whatever you're using it to compile. I run Gentoo and we run into them all the time since everybody and their uncle is independently compiling everything with 47 bazillion slightly-different configurations.

And pandering to only your current community is unwise because of selection bias. I can argue that I don't need a lawnmower because my slaves have been doing fine with scythes for the last 100 years, but that doesn't mean that a lawnmower wouldn't make the job easier.

Comment: Re:What's it going to take? (Score 1) 120

by Rich0 (#47550079) Attached to: When Spies and Crime-Fighters Squabble Over How They Spy On You

The problem for the terrorist is that they still have to communicate. Who looks at their blog or whatever?

After they blow up their target, you can ID the participants. Then you can go pull up the logs and see every person they've communicated with. You see they viewed a log. You note that 12 other foreigners have had something to do with that log. Now you go track down what they're up to now.

The idea of mass surveillance is that once somebody messes up and you get a lead you can pursue that lead far further. You don't try to identify suspicious activity when it happens - you look at it after the fact. The only way this can happen is if you collect data on everybody all the time.

The next step is to actually monitor individuals individually - look at the totality of every individual's activity and assess what sort of person they are. If you can correlate enough info to determine what human being every new Facebook account or whatever belongs to, you can do that. If you walk up to a library to create an account, maybe there is a traffic camera that snapped your plate as you drove up, and maybe a camera will notice that you walked out without any books. If you can automate this sort of thing then you can track everything done by everybody, and that makes it a lot harder to commit a crime.

I'm not saying any of this is right. I just think it is a bit much to say that it can't work. That just seems like a matter of technology, which makes it a matter of time.

Comment: Re:Great. Now the sloth community... (Score 1) 726

by Rich0 (#47550015) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: "GCC 4.9.0 Seems To Be Terminally Broken"

Perhaps, but I'm less convinced of the orthogonality of aggressiveness and managing the contributions of geeks with large egos.

Many corporations are governed by aggressive managers. For some reason people equate assertiveness and competence - it probably has to do with some part of our brain we share in common with wolves. Many have argued that this sort of thing is what causes many established companies to fail.

Comment: Re:Methane Anyone? (Score 1) 571

by Rich0 (#47549993) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

The problem here is externalities.

A barrel of Iraqi oil seems cheaper than the equivalent in US nuclear/wind/solar power production because:
1. Taxpayers pay to subdue the Iraqis so that they'll sell us oil to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars so that oil importers don't have to pay to do it themselves.
2. The US generally ignores the impact of burning oil on the world climate, so everybody else gets to foot the bill for rising tides, poor growing conditions, etc.
3. To the extent that the US does pay for climate change, it again gets handled by taxpayers and not as an excise tax on burning oil/coal/etc.

The correct economic solution to these problems is to just pass the costs of obtaining/cleaning/etc the power source into the cost of buying it. Then consumers can buy whatever makes sense. People who feel bad about bombing civilians in Iraq can just buy solar-charged electric cars and rest assured that not a single dime of their taxes are going to bombing Iraq. People who are afraid of nuclear power can buy solar and know that their taxes aren't going to Yucca Mountain, and so on.

Oh, and for heaven's sake just reprocess the spent nuclear fuel and stop burying it. If you're worried about proliferation just put the breeder reactors in the middle of military bases - we manage to guard nuclear warheads without losing them, we can certainly deal with a reactor core submerged in boiling water which you can't go anywhere near without dropping dead and which is a much less attractive theft target to begin with.

Comment: Re:So much unnecessary trouble (Score 1) 571

by Rich0 (#47549945) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

It sounds like you've been won over by the facade of corrupt spending and wealth in touristy areas (the only bits of Russia anyone would want to live in) and are completely oblivious to the other 99.99% of the country.

Yup. When it comes to tourism and landmarks dictatorships tend to do far better than democracies/etc. In the US it took a massive fundraising effort just to accept the donation of the statue of liberty - France was almost told thanks-but-no-thanks since the government didn't want to pay to site the massive statue that was an outright gift. On the other hand, if you look at places like North Korea the statue of the dictator is maintained free of bird droppings year round, likely burnished in gold, and they talk about things like satellite launches and other public displays of power.

If you want to gauge how healthy a government is, look at how much they spend on things like roads and bridges and healthcare for the poor. That isn't nearly as glamorous as St. Basil's but a heck of a lot more expensive. Even the US hasn't been doing all that great of late in this regard.

Comment: Re:Weakest US President ever (Score 1) 571

by Rich0 (#47548971) Attached to: Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine

The ISIS situation is actually the USA's fault and they really ought to go do something about though. The USA removed the stabilizing force in Iraq (despite Saddam Hussein's faults, he did keep the peace in Iraq) and then left a weakened government when they withdrew their troops.

Nobody likes nation building. Going in an bombing and then pulling out is "easy." You don't have to deal with all the indigenous populations that hate each other, and so on. Building a stable nation is messy - if there are two tribes of indians that hate each other you have to either get rid of one, or change their culture so that they don't hate each other any longer. If the nation speaks 3 languages, you probably need to get them on one language, and that means picking which one wins.

All of that stuff is morally questionable, and nobody wants to do it. So, we basically leave fragmented nations which unsurprisingly devolve into civil wars until one side or another kills everybody else off and ends up with a single language/culture/etc which is stable, or they manage to draw up internal borders and turn into multiple countries.

If you're not willing to do nation building then you really need to think twice about going in to begin with. You can't win hearts and minds if the "citizens" you're trying to liberate all hate each other almost as much as they hate you.

"I got everybody to pay up front...then I blew up their planet." "Now why didn't I think of that?" -- Post Bros. Comics